NSW Law regarding right to cut down overhanging tree

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Renovator11

Active Member
7 February 2019
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My neighbour has several palm trees which are planted hard up against the fence. The curved nature of the trunks of this type of palm means that at a height of several metres, the entire head of some of the palm trees is on our side of the boundary line. We are endlessly collecting and disposing of fronds and fruits and seeds from these trees. They are constantly blocking our gutters which means cleaning them every couple of months. Large fronds are also a theoretical risk to our young children playing in the yard. We have always disposed of the fronds ourselves as we do not have a good relationship with the neighbour and I do not want to cause some kind of garden waste war.

There is a common belief that if a tree is overhanging a property boundary, then the neighbouring landowner has the right to trim back to the boundary line. The Trees Act 2006 does not outline this right a far as I can see. It only deals with rights to obtain Court Orders regarding trees in certain situations and on certain land.

What legislation actually covers this?

It will cost me several hundred dollars, but I am wondering whether to just go ahead and have the trunks cut off at a height where they cross over the boundary. Do I need to give the neighbour notice that I will be doing this? Does it make any difference that I will be effectively cutting the tree down as opposed to trimming it?
 

Paul Cott

Well-Known Member
LawTap Verified
26 May 2014
294
94
789
Ballarat, Victoria
Hi,
Not sure what state you are in but at common law you have a right of self help to cut down overhanging branches, fronds etc. It is always difficult trying to resolve neighbour disputes as they are right next door. I would give your neighbour notice if you are going to cut the trunks off if you are in fact effectively cutting the tree down rather than trimming it. But on the facts as you have described i would be very reluctant to trim to effectively cut the trees down. Your state may have an equivalent to what we have here in Victoria which resolves a lot of disputes like this, the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria. Good luck.
 

Renovator11

Active Member
7 February 2019
8
0
31
Thanks for the response, I am in NSW. Sorry but I do not understand this bit.

But on the facts as you have described i would be very reluctant to trim to effectively cut the trees down.

Are you saying that you would be reluctant to cut through the trunk of the palm tree?

I have been trying to find out more about this but cannot. Information regarding rights to trim often also include a comment such as "However, when trimming or cutting back, you must not cause unnecessary damage or kill the tree."

A palm tree is quite a unique example here in that if the whole head of the tree is over my side up in the air, there is no way of effectively trimming by removing a couple of fronds i.e. the necessary damage to remove the nuisance will kill the tree.
 

Paul Cott

Well-Known Member
LawTap Verified
26 May 2014
294
94
789
Ballarat, Victoria
Thanks for the response, I am in NSW. Sorry but I do not understand this bit.



Are you saying that you would be reluctant to cut through the trunk of the palm tree?

I have been trying to find out more about this but cannot. Information regarding rights to trim often also include a comment such as "However, when trimming or cutting back, you must not cause unnecessary damage or kill the tree."

A palm tree is quite a unique example here in that if the whole head of the tree is over my side up in the air, there is no way of effectively trimming by removing a couple of fronds i.e. the necessary damage to remove the nuisance will kill the tree.

Yes that’s what I am saying.