Don’t Let a Few Stray Branches Ruin a Neighbourly Relationship

Don’t Let a Few Stray Branches Ruin a Neighbourly Relationship

Aside from fences, barking dogs and crowing roosters, there is nothing that will set neighbour against neighbour quite like a dispute over a tree. While it could be said that there are only two types of people in the world, those who like trees and those who don’t, these situations are never black and white. Sometimes it is just sheer obstinacy on the part of one person, but often there are broader issues, and both parties need an opportunity to put forward their views. If the conciliatory approach is taken, often these situations can be resolved amicable and without recourse to external intervention. Unfortunately often this is not the case.

The Dividing Fences Act was replaced in November 2011 by the Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution Act 2011 and contains information and legislation specific to tree lopping Brisbane disputes. It makes it quite clear where the responsibility lies, and just what can and can’t be done, including a specific definition of what constitutes a tree.

One of the biggest issues is the problem of branches overhanging from one yard into a neighbouring property. The keeper who is generally the owner of the property on which the tree is growing, is responsible for the proper care and maintenance of the plant. The neighbour can request the keeper to lop the branches overhanging onto the neighbouring property, but only if they are more than 50cm over the boundary and less than 2.5 metres above the ground. If the keeper refuses, they can make the request in writing on a prescribed form, engage contractors, and bill the tree-keeper up to a maximum of $300.

The neighbour can also exercise the common law of abatement by lopping branches and roots to the boundary, and decide if they will return the lopped roots or branches, or dispose of them themselves. When neighbours get along well, the neighbour will ask permission to remove the branches, and the keeper will give it. Often they will do the job together and share a drink on their return from the dump. If only it were true in all cases!

There are rules to be understood before taking action such as tree removal Brisbane. The tree must be overhanging the neighbouring property and causing, or likely to cause within 12 months, serious injury to a person, land or property, or substantial ongoing interference with the neighbour’s enjoyment of their land. This could be interference with television or satellite reception, or obstruction of sunlight or views from branches 2.5 metres above the ground. It does not generally include normal tree litter such as leaves, seeds, flowers, fruit or small branches of deadwood.

There are other details that relate to this issue that should be considered and a visit to the relevant website is a good place to start. However, a congenial conversation with the neighbour to see if a common point of agreement can be reached is still the best way. Remember, there are two sides to every story.