New laws for neighbourhood tree and fence disputes
New laws have been introduced to help neighbours resolve disputes over trees and dividing fences.
The Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution Act 2011 also gives jurisdiction to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal to give orders on neighbourhood tree and fence disputes. The Act was introduced on 1 November 2011.
The tree-keeper (usually the owner of the land) is responsible for the care and maintenance of their trees.
Neighbours are provided with choices about how to manage trees which are affecting their property.
If a neighbour chooses to lop an overhanging tree branch or a root, they can dispose of the cuttings themselves or return them to the tree-keeper's property.
If a neighbour wants the tree-keeper to remove branches hanging over their property, they can serve the tree keeper with a Notice for removal of particular overhanging branches. If the tree-keeper ignores the notice, the neighbour can have the lopping done and request a maximum reimbursement of $300 (per year) from the tree-keeper.
The tree-keeper must ensure that trees on their property do not affect the neighbour's property by causing serious injury to a person, serious damage to the neighbour's property, or interference with the neighbour's use and enjoyment of their land.
The new fence laws have a wider definition of the term fence.
Neighbours share equally the ownership of a dividing fence on a common boundary, but when a fence is built on one neighbour's land it is owned by that neighbour, even if the other neighbour contributed to the fence's construction.
Resolving tree and fence disputes
Talk to your neighbour, and if you come to an agreement, get it in writing.
Mediation is available from the Department of Justice and Attorney General (DJAG) Dispute Resolution Branch.
Find out more at the DJAG website.
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