Boundary Line Tree Cutting
Ah yes, the overhanging tree. The number one cause of hate-fuelled feuds between neighbours across the world since the dawn of time. We human beings are very particular when it comes to boundaries, especially when it comes to our home properties. But who is actually responsible for an overhanging tree? Is it the owner? Or the unwilling recipient of said overhang? In this article, we’re going to clear it up for you so that no matter which party you are, you will know exactly where you stand and how best to proceed.
Who is responsible for an overhanging tree?
The party responsible for the overhanging tree is quite simply the person who owns it. So, if the tree is on your property and starts to encroach on your neighbours territory—whether it be roots or branch—you are obligated to cut and remove any stragglers up to the point where your property ends (provided that your neighbour has raised it as an issue with you).
If you have noticed a tree of yours looming over your neighbour’s property, it might be worth consulting with them and asking if it is a problem that they would like rectifying. In some cases, they might not mind, but in any case, they will almost certainly appreciate the gesture of communication.
Who is responsible for trees overhanging in my garden?
Again, a tree overhanging in your garden from a neighbouring property is their responsibility. If you have noticed trees hanging over and you are not happy with it, speak with them immediately and ask that they resolve the issue at their earliest convenience.
Can you trim the branches of your neighbour’s tree that hang over into your yard?
If a neighbours tree is encroaching on your property—whether it be root or branch—you are legally entitled to cut and remove anything that has passed over the boundary, up until the point where your property ends. Be mindful of this because if you are to cut anything OVER your property boundary, then you will be liable for property damages.
And of course, if you decide that you would like to trim the neighbouring tree then you should definitely consult with your neighbour first. Again, it is your legal entitlement to go ahead and cut the tree if you want to, but as a courtesy it is always best to speak with your neighbour first. If you are lucky, they might even offer to do it for you, or have a specialist arborist come and handle the task on your behalf.
Failing to communicate with your neighbour and just going ahead with the task will likely only create unnecessary tension and animosity between you both. That, and if you do go ahead and cut the tree without consulting with them and you happen to go over the property boundary by accident, then your disgruntled neighbour might be much more likely to contact the authorities and report it as property damage.
Save yourself the headache.
Can I force my neighbour to trim their tree?
It is important to try and maintain a healthy relationship with your neighbours, but we understand that that isn’t always possible. Some people just love a bit of drama and can be incredibly stubborn when it comes to situations like this.
The fact is, you can’t force your neighbour to trim the tree, or at least, not by yourself. If you are unwilling to cut the tree back by yourself, and they are refusing to play ball, then there are other actions you can take.
The first step is to explore community mediation. Depending on where you are in Australia, your local council will be able to assist you with this. They can help both you and your neighbour come to a peaceful resolution. However, if your neighbour still refuses to cooperate, then you may have to pursue legal action. However, make sure that you seek legal advice before going down this road.
Be Mindful of Protected Tree Species
Another important thing to bear in mind is that there are certain protected tree species in Australia. This means that there is a chance that the tree in question might be untouchable. So, whether it is a tree on your property encroaching on a neighbour’s property (or vice-versa), neither party will be able to damage or remove it.
If you are unsure, the best bet is to contact your local arborist and seek professional assistance.