Before buying a property, a purchaser will usually find out about problems with the property through a building & pest report. But there are some issues that will not be covered by these reports, such as tree disputes that are likely to occur in the future. If the branches of your neighbour’s trees have not yet encroached on your property at the time of purchase, or if your neighbour’s trees have already encroached on your home, then you may wish to consider reading the following article to find out what you can do.
First of all, you have the right to address the nuisance by trimming the overhanging or encroaching branches. Specifically, you have the right to trim the branches that are encroaching on your property to the boundary line of your property and your neighbour’s property.
The encroaching branches should be trimmed so as not to harm the trees they belong to. Pruning should be carried out in accordance with the Australian Standard: ‘Pruning of Amenity Trees’ (AS 4373-2007). It is best practice to hire a certified arborist to prune. Please note that you will be responsible for the costs associated with the pruning of the encroaching branches. The exception to this rule is that the encroaching branches are poisonous.
Some city councils may require you to obtain permission from the owner of the tree to which the encroaching branches belong to before pruning the encroaching branches, we, however do not believe that obtaining such permission is necessary.
Although obtaining such permission is not legally necessary, you may consider informing your neighbours first. It is always a good idea to communicate with your neighbour before taking action. You may want to let them know that what you plan to do and why, and make sure you are both on the same page. If the branches you wish to prune are branches of a protected tree, then you must first obtain a permit and authorisation from the local council.
When you have finished pruning the branches, you should first return the branches to your neighbour. As the branches were pruned from your neighbour’s trees, they are essentially your neighbour’s property. If the pruned tree is valuable timber, or if the pruned branch contains fruit or flowers, then you must return the pruned branches, or the fruit or flowers on the branches, to your neighbour.
For pruned branches, you may place them directly into the green bin of the owner of the tree to which they belong. You can also place them neatly on neighbour’s property. If your neighbour does not respond to this request or even protests, then you can dispose of the cuttings yourself. We recommend that you communicate in writing about the trimming and disposal of encroaching branches.