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Neighbour disputes over trees and hedges

Trees and hedges are a common cause of disputes between neighbours.  Neighbours can unfortunately sometimes use trees as a means of antagonising their neighbour.  Common causes for tree and hedges disputes include circumstances where a neighbour’s tree or hedges:

  • Obstruct a neighbours view or sunlight
  • Causes property damage: or
  • Threaten people’s safety.

In NSW, disputes between neighbours relating to trees and hedges are governed by the Trees (Disputes between Neighbours) Act 2006 (NSW).  Prior to the Act, neighbourhood disputes relating to trees were resolved under common law principles of trespass, negligence and nuisance.

In the first instance, it is useful for neighbours to engage in informal discussion. Sometimes informing a neighbour that there is legislation in place that protects the rights of neighbours is enough for the offending tree or hedge to be removed or trimmed.  A formal letter from a property disputes lawyer is another method that can be used.  This can state a neighbour’s legal rights and obligations with reference to the legislation and provide a time limit for action regarding the tree. If this fails to resolve the dispute, the lawyer can engage in formal negotiation on your behalf with the neighbour and or their solicitor. If the dispute escalates, other forms of alternative dispute resolution such as mediation and conciliation can be attempted. The final course of action is to formally apply to the court for an order to have the trees or hedges trimmed or removed to remedy the obstruction, property damage or threat to people’s safety.

The property disputes lawyers at Brander Smith McKnight are highly experienced negotiators and advocates. We pride ourselves on settling the vast majority of neighbourhood disputes with either an inexpensive legal letter or via negotiation.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.


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