Can I Ask My Neighbours to Cut Down Their Trees?

16/04/2020

The short answer is yes. But the entire process is far from short and simple.

If your neighbour’s trees are causing trouble and hazards to you (e.g. branches and leaves blocking your view, leaves falling on your garden and pool, the tree might fall on your property during a storm), a straightforward and friendly approach might work. In some cases though, it can result in a long legal and mediation process. After all, you need your neighbour’s written consent (aside from Council approval) to get that hazardous tree removed.

There are huge financial consequences from removing a neighbour’s tree without his/her consent. This is what happened in a case handled by the Hunter’s Hill Council in 2018 (source: Land and Environment Court of New South Wales). The original complainant about the neighbour’s trees went ahead with cutting the trees without the neighbour’s consent. Also, there was no permit from the Hunter’s Hill Council in the first place. The resulting fine is more than $80,000 total. In addition, she was required to plant replacement trees on the neighbour’s property (with professional services from a qualified arborist).

That might be a rare case but you get a glimpse of what might happen if you went ahead without going through the right process. There, we’re only talking about the financial consequences. The whole situation becomes even more complicated if we also talk about the potential conflict among neighbours and in the community. For example, if you already had issues with a particular neighbour (e.g. always noisy because of frequent parties), the hazardous tree in his/her property might finally get you angry. As a result, it will seem impossible to ask for a written consent and come up with a win-win solution.

Mediation with the help of the Community Justice Centre can help settle things between you and your neighbour. However, this might turn into a long process of negotiation and compromise. Agreement is still possible but be ready for the process and timeline before things finally get settled.

This is just to give you an idea of what might happen if your neighbour’s tree is hazardous or troublesome and you want it removed. If you have more questions and concerns, you can ask us here at Banksia Arborcare Professional Tree Services (0412 181 075). We’re a member of the National Arborists Association of Australia and the International Society of Arboriculture so rest assured that everything will be handled peacefully and professionally.