What is a tree dispute?

 
Neighbours who disagree about how to deal with a tree that has become dangerous or damaging on one of  their adjoining properties, or a hedge on one of  their adjoining properties that is obstructing sunlight, may apply to the NSW Land and Environment Court for orders. These type of applications to the Court are allowed by the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 (the Trees Act).

The Trees Act sets out a process to enable people to deal with disputes like these in a simple, inexpensive and accessible way. It also sets out:

  • the definition of a tree or a hedge (for the purposes of the Trees Act)
  • when an application can be made
  • the matters the Court must consider
  • the orders that the Court can make.

Tree disputes can be brought to the Court when:

  • there is a dispute between neighbours about a tree on one of their properties
  • the Trees Act applies to the tree concerned (that is, it meets the definition of a tree in s 3 of the Trees Act)
  • the tree is on privately owned land in an urban zone to which the Trees Act applies (see s 4 of the Trees Act)
  • the tree is on land adjoining the land of the neighbor who is affected by the tree
  • the tree has caused, is causing or is likely in the near future to cause damage to the affected neighbour’s property, or be likely to cause injury to any person (see s 7 as well as s 3 and s 10 of Trees Act)
  • the affected neighbour has a right to apply to the Court (according to the Trees Act — see Who can make an application for orders?).

Hedge disputes can be brought to the Court when:

  • there is a dispute between neighbours about a hedge on one of their properties
  • the Trees Act applies to the hedge concerned (that is, it meets the definition of a hedge in s 14A of the Trees Act)
  • the hedge is on privately owned land in an urban zone to which the Trees Act applies (see s 4 and s 14A(2) of the Trees Act)
  • the hedge is on land adjoining the land of the neighbor who is affected by the tree
  • the hedge is severely obstructing sunlight to a window of a dwelling situated on the affected neighbour’s land or severely obstructing a view from the dwelling situated on the affected neighbour’s land (see s 14B as well as s 3, s 14 and s 14E of the Trees Act)
    the affected neighbour has a right to apply (according to the rules set out — see Who can make an application for orders?).

 

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