Residents are advised that owners of private property are responsible for the lawful management of trees located on their property. Pruning or removal of trees, subject to Council’s Tree Preservation Order, will require an application to Council and approval of the owner.
Council does not have the authority to resolve tree disputes between neighbours but provides the following advice for dealing with issues arising from trees on neighbouring properties.
Should you wish to prune or remove a tree located on a neighbouring property, you should first consult with the owner of the neighbouring property. Pruning branches or roots of a tree located on a neighbouring property may require consent of Council if the tree is protected under Council’s Planning policies. If you are in breach of these policies, you could be prosecuted and fined.
Applications for removal of trees can only be lodged by the owner, agent or Strata Management of the property where the tree is located. In the case of multi-unit dwellings the corporate seal must be placed on the application.
A neighbouring property owner may however, apply to prune overhanging branches from a tree on an adjoining property. The tree owner must be notified that such an application is to be submitted to Council. All pruning work must comply with Australian Standard AS4373 (Pruning of amenity trees). If you wish to enter a neighbouring property, you must first obtain permission from the owner or occupier. Failure to obtain permission to enter or leave when requested may be considered illegal trespass.
If the owner of the tree does not agree with your request for tree removal, you may need to obtain a report from a qualified arborist or a qualified engineer to substantiate your case with the neighbour or seek mediation through a Community Justice Centre. Community Justice Centres have trained mediatorsthat help people in dispute to come to a settlement, however they do not have the power to make determinations, award costs or impose penalties.
The Tree (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 enables the Land & Environment Court to make orders to remedy, restrain or prevent damage to property or to prevent injury to any person when a tree that is situated on adjoining land might cause that damage or injury. The Act also permits the Court to order compensation for or rectification of damage caused by a tree.
The Act applies to trees which are on privately owned land in areas zoned residential, industrial or business and can apply to trees on Crown Land (NSW Government owned land), though the Court has some restrictions in dealing with Crown Land.
The Act does not apply to trees on land owned or managed by Strathfield Council. If a tree is located on land owned or managed by Strathfield Council, please contact Council’s Customer Service Centre on 9748 9999.
Applications to the Land & Environment Court involve payment of a fee. As at 1 July 2012, the fees are $217 for individuals and $434 for corporations. Application forms and other information is available from the Land & Environment Court website.