Fences, trees and neighbourly disputes.
Spring is here and it’s time to get outside and enjoy our gardens. But the humble backyard can be a source of great irritation and disagreement among neighbours. Charltons Lawyers receives a number of enquiries about neighbouring fences and trees and what to do about them.
Before turning to the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011 (Qld), your first step should be to approach your neighbour and discuss what you are trying to achieve. Are you after a new or replacement fence or are there trees intruding on your property?
Your dividing fence may be badly in need of repair or replacement. Neighbours are required to contribute equally to dividing fences, unless the fence will be built to a higher standard than would be sufficient. In this situation, the party requiring the higher standard is required to contribute the excess.
There are several ways in which trees may affect your property. There may be overhanging branches, leaf litter and fruit dropping into your property or perhaps the tree is causing interference with sunlight or television signals.
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) website contains a standard form for each dispute. If the dispute is over trees, you will need to include the location and type of tree. If fences are the concern, you will need to include the boundary to be fenced, the method of construction and the cost, including your neighbour’s contribution. A written quote must be attached to each form. While the common law right of abatement applies (your right to remove overhanging branches and roots to your boundary line), requesting the tree owner attend to the works before acting yourself may save you from future tension down the track.
While contacting QCAT is a straightforward process and lawyers are rarely required, maintaining good relationships with your neighbours is the best way to avoid costly and time-consuming disputes.