Trees on Private Property

Encroaching branches and roots

If a branch or root of a neighbour’s tree encroaches on your land, you are entitled to cut and remove the branch or root up to the boundary of your land. You must not cut the branch or root on your neighbour’s side of the boundary without their agreement.

The law does not require you to give prior notice of removing branches or roots from your property, but you should notify your neighbour that there is a problem.

Any root, branch, flower or fruit on a branch that is removed, remains the property of the tree’s owner and your neighbour may want it returned.

Damage caused by a neighbouring tree

Neighbouring trees can:

  • Block drains or raise brick paving
  • Drop leaves into your pool, pond or gutter
  • Overshadow your trees or crops
  • Damage the foundations of your house or garage.

If a tree has caused damage to your property, you can notify your neighbour in writing and request:

  • Reimbursement for the costs of repairs and other expenses
  • The tree, or encroaching part of the tree is removed.

If you can’t reach an agreement, it may be necessary to issue legal proceedings. The court may order the tree’s owner to have the encroaching branches or roots removed.

Tree safety

Under the Local Government Act 1995, Schedule 3.1, the City can respond to safety concerns over trees on private properties. If you think your neighbour’s tree is a danger to either people or your property, before you contact the council you should:

  • Speak with your neighbour about your concerns and attempt to reach an amicable solution
  • Write to the owner requesting works to be undertaken on their tree and keep a copy of letter
  • Obtain an arboricultural report from a qualified consultant and give it to the owner with a request to carry out required works.

If the property owner does not take action, contact the City on 9474 0777. A notice for appropriate works can be issued under the Local Government Act 1995, Schedule 3.1. You must be able to provide proof that you’ve already taken the above-mentioned steps.

Legal Aid can also assist you in resolving an issue amicably. Contact Legal Aid on 1300 650 579 or the Citizens Advice Bureau on 9221 5711.