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WA Council Fine for Pruning Trees?

Discussion in 'Property Law Forum' started by Shane1977, 18 September 2016.

  1. Shane1977

    Shane1977 Member

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    I bought my property a decade ago, and was told by the previous owner that he planted the trees surrounding it. Two of them are known to cause allergies (I have suffered from them from the day I moved in), and have branches that overlay my pool which is constantly flooded with leave and debris, and roots that have caused cracks in my wall.

    Long story short, I decided to prune the trees a few weeks ago. Next thing I know (literally 2 hours later), a council ranger is knocking on my door. Apparently someone had seen me doing this and complained to the council!

    I had no idea that these trees belong to the council (I guess that is not an excuse but in the last 10 years, I have never seen the council do anything to these trees, which have grown and grown). I explained my rationale to the ranger who seemed to understand, but I have now received a letter stating that this is an offence and I need to pay $10,000 to replace these trees with new ones!

    This is insane! I do not have $10,000 lying around. The trees are still there and in fact have started growing leaves again!

    Not sure what to do in this situation, they haven't even given me an option to appeal this, saying they are going to finish the process ASAP and will send me the invoice.

    Any help on property law would be most appreciated.

    P.S. they were not blocking views and pruning them in now way improved my property's sale value.
     
  2. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Take lots of photos of the trees now - before council does anything to the trees.

    Take long shots, medium shots and close ups of new shoots.

    Not sure why you think tree roots have cracked your wall, but take photos of the cracks in your wall. If you have any proof it is tree roots cracking the wall, document your proof.

    Ask the council to justify the $10,000 cost.

    Get letter from previous owner stating he planted the trees, preferably with council consent.

    Then go into council and talk to them about the trees. See what position they take while talking to them. Don't say anything about your wall at the first meeting. The purpose of this first meeting is just to get more information from them and see if they will back-off. Do not be antagonistic in this initial meeting.

    After the meeting, wait a few days, think through their response, and plan your next steps.

    There is no immediate hurry to engage a lawyer.
     
  3. Shane1977

    Shane1977 Member

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    Thanks for your response Rod, from the letter they sent me, it seems the costs are for "removing these trees and replacing with similar trees" and looking after them for 2 years. They have quoted a formula that they have used to come up with this estimate.

    Worst case scenario if it does get to the stage of engaging a lawyer, would these things go to trial? Do councils usually back down?

    I just do not understand how they can expect ordinary Australians to cough up ten grand at a moments notice!?
     
  4. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    OK, the justification is there. Though suspect amount can be challenged. Did they care for the trees 10 years ago?

    No idea if councils go all the to trial. Maybe check your council records and see what kinds of offences they prosecute at trial.

    If it goes to court and you lose, then you ask for a payment plan you can afford.
     
  5. Iamthelaw

    Iamthelaw Well-Known Member

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    Engage a lawyer - Find a Lawyer & Book Online Instantly | LawTap

    You can actually be prosecuted for this in some jurisdictions.

    Penalties of $5,000 to $10,000 are within the norm. And in answer to your question, yes, some councils do prosecute.
     

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