Problem Neighbours - What to Do?

Have you ever purchased a property and later discovered that your neighbour’s trees will eventually block your view or prevent your property from having the benefit of sunlight?

Problems with neighbouring trees can be a common source of tension between neighbours. It is a good idea to talk to your neighbour first to see if you can come to some arrangement that is
suitable to both parties, such as agreeing to have the trees thinned or reduced in height.

However, if that doesn’t work, there are legal remedies available. Parties can apply to the District Court under the Property Law Act 1952 (“the Act”). Section 129C of the Act gives the Court the power to order removal or trimming of trees injuriously affecting neighbour’s land.

Specifically, section 129C(6) includes factors that the Court may take into consideration in determining whether a tree is obstructing the applicant’s view or is otherwise causing injury or loss to the applicant. These factors include the:

  • Interests of the public in the maintenance of an aesthetically pleasing environment;
  • Desirability of protecting public reserves containing trees;
  • Value of the tree as a public amenity;
  • Historical, cultural or scientific significance (if any) of the tree; and
  • Likely effect (if any) of the removal or trimming of the tree on ground stability, the water table or run-off.

Other Considerations

The Court will not make an order under this section unless it is satisfied that:

  • The tree is causing or is likely to cause loss, injury or damage to the applicant’s life, health or property; or
  • The tree is obstructing any view that an occupier of the applicant’s land would otherwise be able to enjoy, or is otherwise causing injury or loss by diminishing the values of the property or reducing the enjoyment of it for residential purposes.

The Court will balance these considerations between the hardship that would be caused to the applicant by the refusal to make the order and the hardship that would be caused to the respondent by the making of the order.

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