Trees – Avoiding conflict with your neighbour about trees

Can you lop off the overhanging branches of a neighbour’s tree?

You can lop off overhanging branches of a neighbour’s tree if the branches are causing a nuisance. You should not trespass on the neighbour’s land to do this. However, any branches you lop off belong to them and they cannot refuse to take the branches back if you are unable or unwilling to dispose of them.

Generally, your neighbour is not obliged to share the cost of hiring someone to remove the branches if they are too big or too high for you to cut down.

If it’s a fruit tree, can you keep the fruit?

Technically, all the fruit on the tree belongs to the owners of the tree. They may be happy to let you keep the fruit on your side of the fence. The best thing to do is to talk to them.

Other problems

The roots of a tree can be a nuisance, particularly when they damage an adjoining property. The injured party has every right to sue.

If your tree falls and strikes somebody, either on the road or on a neighbouring property, you may be liable for negligence.

Trees should not be a traffic hazard. Where they are likely to be a problem to road users, the local council can order them to be removed, lowered or trimmed.

Consult your solicitor if you require specific advice on problems created by trees.

For more information on resolving Conflict contact the Dispute Resolution Centre in Townsville on 1800 809 605 or  07 4799 7870.

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