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Neighbourhood tree disputes - have your say

The Victorian Law Reform Commission is asking for the community’s views on how to make the law about tree disputes fairer and clearer.

The Commission’s inquiry concerns disputes about trees between neighbours on private land. Such disputes typically involve encroaching roots and branches, and can also involve leaf litter, fallen fruit, and pollen.

Trees sometimes cause harm to people and damage to property. Consequences can include blocked drains, damage to walls and foundations, and health effects such as allergic reactions. (However, this inquiry does not cover trees on public land, or disputes about trees blocking light and views.)

In a consultation paper published on its website, the Commission says that tree disputes are common between neighbours, and the law and process for resolving them is not clear.

Many people don’t know what to do or where to go when they are involved in a tree dispute. Disputes can escalate quickly and sometimes drag on for years.

Chair of the Commission, Philip Cummins AM said: “Currently, there is no simple way to resolve a tree dispute. You can try talking to your neighbours, you can use the services of the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria, or you can go to court, which is stressful and expensive.”

In New South Wales and Queensland there are specially-designed laws and courts to deal with neighbourhood tree disputes, an approach that the Commission will consider for Victoria.

The Commission wants to hear from people with experience of tree disputes and opinions about how the law should be changed. Community members can complete an online survey or make a submission to the inquiry by 22 February 2018.

More information: www.lawreform.vic.gov.au

8 comments

It is very hard when you might live in a natural bush area and there are large Gum trees etc and the neighbours want a view --  and you want to keep some trees for the wildlife -- I grow a lot of natives mostly because they feed the wildlife -- but some people would prefer a sterile environment -- I don't,

I would never plant a tree that would damage or annoy people but sometimes they have to learn to live with nature and what was there b4 they came

Am in the middle of experiencing this difficulty.  I have right of use of the driveway for my battle axe property.  Have maintained it for past 9 years, swept it weekly, weeded the garden, watered the trees and a week ago my front neighbour who owns the driveway got in a contractor to demolish all the trees (including 50 ft pencil pines, crepe myrtle, agapanthas etc.) and now I have a bald driveway to my house with loads of tree branches, leaves etc just left there.  My driveway has gone from a beautiful archway of trees to a concrete jungle.  I have no legal say over the matter and the new nextdoor neighbours love it because they hate trees too.... I feel like crying.

I feel your pain Kim--  I am also on a battle-axe but thank goodness I own the driveway and I have lots of trees down each side -- yes it takes a lot of looking after but I love it and I am unseen from most places too -- I hate sterile environments.

Kim, when you say, you have right of use of the driveway, who owns the driveway? Does it belong to your lumberjack neighbour or is it a council easement? Why does your block not have a freehold vehicle access?

Kim - Did you go to your Local Council and ask if the neighbour had permission to take all these trees out? Where I live we have to apply to have the tree removed, only after a council inspector comes and gives the "all clear" to dispose of it. There are heavy fines for each tree removed without permission. I would look into the matter further. Some people think they are above the law.  Good Luck.

HOLA I think it is only NAtives they are not able to remove without permission --

Also bit late now that he trees are gone . 

Hi PlanB - I think you still have to have a tree removal application. A home near to my place had 2 Palm trees removed without council approval and they were fined $2,000.00. Our friends wanted to have a Jacaranda tree removed as it was lifting up their footpath and they were denied.

Raphael - Even if the trees are gone they can still be fined. I live in the Sydney area.

Councils are filling up with tree - huggers fast.

If they deny you the right to euthanise your own tree, a good dose of round-up into the bark will kill it slowly 

some people are control freaks, i have just such a neighbour. he poisons my plants over the fence and wherever he can along the fence line, of course making sure i'm not a home when he does it. a real bully he also throws his rubbish over the fence. total denial on his behalf which means i can't even go to mediation, as it takes a degree of goodwill for that. i install a camera, he breaks it! anyhow, i'm hoping one day he'll get his comeuppance!

sorry, just had to vent!

 

Install a few hidden cameras 

I had 14 Cocoas Plams removed I did ask the council and they said no worries they are a pest anyway -- it is the Kentia and other native palms they don't want removed,  some councils might be different -- here we are allowed to remove trees that are not Native but still wise to get approval.

  Good to have a few -- tree huggers -- it is a disgrace that we do not have corridors for the wildlife -- we are taking over their habitat and wondering why they are becoming extinct!

Trees are an area of complete mismanagement by Councils, and NSW laws are not going to help VIC.

Councils need to take responsibility and define clearly what type of trees and in what locations these are allowed. They also need to give / order the resolution in case of disputes rather than leave it to neighbours to fight it out. For example, if pipes are broken, trees may send roots there - in that case the pipes need to be fixed first and roots / parts of trees cut back or removed - really simple solutions are there but Councils sit on their hands and do not manage the situation. The State Govts need to define Council's responsibilities in this area very clearly and stop this problem.

I often wonder who  the people are that come around trimming trees. They cut the parts leaning over footpaths and leave what's hanging in your yard, thus making the tree grow at ugly angles.. Where my sister lives, the council came around and planted Jacarandas in front of every second home, we all know what damage they can do to footpaths and fences, they need large areas to grow in. Many neighbours didn't want the trees and came out in the evening and pulled them out.  Typical of councils.

Councils seem to have NFI as to what to plant in the street -- we have had huge Eucalypusplanted a few years ago and they have now ripped up paths which have to be replaced -- they took no notice when they were told by people that KNEW what to plant -- and Jacaranda is NOT a good street tree mostly

Quite frankly I have never found Tree Loppers to be anything but darn cowboys and have no care taken for the garden they are working on OR the way a tree should be trimmed it is just slash and drop and they make a hell of a mess -- and I have had about 8 different loppers as over time as some neighbours asked would I remove or trim some trees for them -- they paid -- for a better view --  what a bloody mess these loppers made.

8 comments