• Strata

Common law and common sense about trees


Overhanging or invasive trees are a common cause of dispute in strata communities and otherwise. There are steps and measure you can take to avoid these disputes escalating out of control.

Read this week’s training note and Many thanks to TEYS lawyers for this article here are some tips on how not to go too far!
Each state and territory by now has its own legislation about tree disputes and if a dispute goes far enough, then these laws should be referenced. This note looks at the common law and some common sense on the topic.

  1. Tall tree near buildingThere are trees to avoid planting and places to avoid planting them. A rubber plant
    will find pipes and drains on the other side of the city if that’s how far it has to go
    for a drink. A by-law about what can be planted and where, is a good use of the
    by-law making powers of an owners corporation.
  2. You don’t need council approval to plant a tree but you might need approval to
    bring one down. Check for tree preservation orders in your local council before
    having a working bee with chainsaws at the ready. (Also check your insurance
    before letting the secretary rip with anything sharper than a pen).
  3. Local councils are responsible for trees on pavements, grass verges and nature
    strips, so don’t waste owners corporation money on these matters, exercise your
    right to complain to the authorities to get this work done.
  4. Branches and roots from a neighbour’s tree can be pruned and the material
    returned to the tree owner’s property, but again be careful of preservation orders
    before taking to the intruder. Also, it might be an idea to talk to the neighbour first
    before cutting down half the magnolia and hurling the cuttings into their pool.
  5. The common law of nuisance applies to physical land or buildings but does not
    include the right to sunlight or an unobstructed view. In some places, including
    Sydney, there is legislation about hedges blocking views so look for this if the Opera House is fading to green.

Thank you TEYS Lawyers.