Fences, trees and neighbours

cut big tree

When it comes to problems with neighbouring trees and fences there is a wide range of information, solutions and services available. The best ones are at the bottom of this page.

Trees

As with any other dealings with your neighbours it is best if you can arrange a meeting when you both have time in order to:
* State clearly how you see the problem;
* Listen to what your neighbour has to say;
* Work out how the problem can be solved.

First check with your local council to see if your area has any tree preservation
laws.  If there is, it could mean you can’t touch the offending tree until there has been an independent assessment of it.

When there is no tree preservation order

If a neighbour’s trees are overhanging your fence or if the roots are intruding onto your property in such a way that there is an ongoing, unreasonable interference with your enjoyment of your property, then the law says this is a “nuisance”.
You are entitled to take action to stop that nuisance.

You are allowed to cut any branch or root that crosses over the dividing boundary (or fence).
You must place any cut root or branch back onto your neighbour’s property in a neat and considerate manner.

Neighbours don’t have to contribute to any cost involved in removing offending branches or roots. However, If any branch or root from a neighbouring tree does cause damage to your property you have a strong case for damages.

Fences

As with any other dealings with your neighbours it is best if you can arrange a meeting when you both have time in order to:

* State clearly how you see the problem;

* Listen to what your neighbour has to say;

* Work out how the problem can be solved.

fence kiss

Check your local council website for any guidelines concerning fences in your area.
Also some fences may need council approval.

Restrictions concerning the style of dividing fence may operate in your local area because of council policies or heritage protection.

Usually each neighbour pays half the cost of building the fence, although other arrangements can be made.
It depends on the benefit that each owner will obtain from the fence. Where one neighbour wants a high fence where a lower fence would do, or a brush fence where steel sheeting is adequate, they should pay the extra cost.

Before repairing or building a new fence it is wise to make a written agreement, signed by you and your neighbour. It should state clearly what work is to be done, what materials will be used, what quotes have been accepted, and how the cost will be shared.

For more detailed information as it applies to your state check out the links below.
Your local council is also be a great source for local information on trees and fencing.
They may also be able to investigate and act on any complaint you may have about a neighbouring fence or tree.
Take a look at some of these great resources:

QLD: A step by step guide to handing tree and fence disputes

VIC: Guide to maintenance and repair of fences

VIC:  When trees become a nuisance

NSW: Tree and plant disputes

NSW: Dividing fences and the law

WA: Dividing fences, trees and related issues

TAS: Tree problems

TAS: Fences and repairs

SA: Trees and the law

SA: Fences and the law

ACT: The unique rules about fences in the Capital

ACT Trees and maintenance

NT:  Tree problems

NT: Solving fencing disputes