VIC Property Law - Should Previous Owner Contribute to Cost of Tree Removal?

Australia's #1 for Law
Join 150,000 Australians every month. Ask a question, respond to a question and better understand the law today!
FREE - Join Now


16 July 2015
We moved 6 months ago to a home that has a large gum tree that is touching a power line. We have been told that it is our responsibility to remove the tree for safety reasons.

We want to know if the previous owner had been told this and did nothing, were they legally obliged to do it or to notify us and would we have any recourse under property law to ask them to pay or contribute to the cost of the removal now?


I doubt it. If you identified the work needed to be done before purchasing and negotiated it into the price of the property perhaps, but I don't think you could go after it now. The law states that it is the owner of the land on which the tree is growing who is responsible for its maintenance, so that would fall squarely on you.


Well-Known Member
16 July 2014
Hi Sam

The only way you would have recourse against the previous owner would be if they had breached the terms of your Contract of Sale by not informing you of the need to remove the tree.

As the property is now owned by you, the responsibility for removing this tree likely lies solely with you. However, this doesn't mean you cant still sue the previous owner for damages if they had breached the Contract of Sale. Your legal ability to do so, will all come down to the details of your Contract of Sale and the representations and disclosures made by the Vendor. It's very hard to give you much guidance without knowing the details of the contract, but you would be looking for the 'Vendor's Statement' section (depending on what state you're based in it may be called something different) and looking through the details about what the Vendor represented about the property.

Generally, issues such as this would have been picked up by the Purchaser at the survey/building inspection stage and the purchase price can the be adjusted accordingly. Did you ever have a survey or building inspection conducted?