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VIC Property Law - Trespassing and Vandalism by Tree Lopper?

Discussion in 'Property Law Forum' started by Lisa Latham, 23 May 2016.

  1. Lisa Latham

    Lisa Latham Member

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    My neighbour hired a tree lopper to cut these big beautiful trees lining the back side of my property that were probably double the height (maybe more) of my house tall. The trees were on the neighbour's property and I'm sure they had every right to prune them. But the tree lopper they hired completely hacked at them and just cut them in half. The job is disgraceful, it does not look nice and neat at all.

    The worst part is that the tree lopper came onto our property, without permission, ripped out my clothesline, ripped out my totum tennis pole with complete disregard and moved the trampoline across the backyard. That's trespassing and vandalism as far as I am concerned! Not even the neighbour mentioned that this was going to happen. No one tried to tell me or ask.

    I remember them starting up two chainsaws at 7:30am this morning too, is that ok? And, we now have no privacy from the neighbours, no shade and it looks atrocious! What on earth! I came home and my backyard was ruined! I spoke to the neighbour who played dumb about the whole situation with very little English I could not understand. I think she was trying to avoid it and probably doesn't care. She did give me the tree lopper's details though. It all sounds like a dodgy cash job to me! But, now it's my bloody problem that I did not ask for!

    Where do I stand under property law? Is it illegal? Should I have been told? Should they have asked for my permission? Is a permit required? Who will fix the damage? Can I claim for damages? Does it devalue my property now without the trees?
     
  2. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Her trees, her right to do as she pleases with the trees --- as long as she does not enter your property.

    The tree lopper committed trespass if he was on your land without permission.
    The neighbour will also be liable but only if she told the tree lopper she had your permission to enter your land.

    Regarding the trees themselves and the way they look, all you can do is wait for them to regrow or plant your own to act as a screen.

    It is a shame, nice trees add so much more value to property but some people don't treat them well at all and just see them as a nuisance.
     
  3. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    Hi Lisa,

    As far as the trees go I don't believe there is any basis for you to claim damages because of the ugly pruning job or the fact of losing the trees since they are not on your property. You may only have recourse if there were a tree preservation order in place.

    As for the trespass, an occupier of land can sue for any actual damage that results from someone trespassing. If there is no actual damage done, then you have nothing to sue for. You can't claim damages simply for the act of trespass in the absence of suffering damage. Damage may include any harm to property or even discomfort and annoyance to you as the property owner. For future reference, anyone trespassing on their land to leave, if they refuse to leave when asked you can use reasonable force to remove them. What exactly was involved in ripping out your clothes line and moving your trampoline? Were the items damaged?
     
  4. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Hi Sophia,

    My understanding is that trespass to land is actionable per se. Nominal, aggravated and exemplary damages are available for trespass to land where there is no actual damage.

    Amounts awarded depend on the facts of the case.
     
  5. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    May be actionable per se, but not commercial to bring an action unless there is some real damage you can point to.
     
  6. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    True, cost of bringing action may be more than awarded damages. I think some legal costs can be covered but they will be scale costs.
     

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