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Tree Problem Got You Stumped?

10 April 2019

The law allows you to cut back any branches or roots from neighbours’ trees that are encroaching on your property. You can cut them back as far as the neighbour’s boundary. If the encroaching parts of the tree are causing any damage, you can remove the branches or roots and go to the Disputes Tribunal or District Court to claim the cost of doing the work and repairing the damage caused to your property.

If your neighbours’ trees are dangerous or blocking your view or light, you can apply for a special type of District Court order to get the tree removed or trimmed. The Court’s discretion to make such an order is often exercised cautiously. The Court must consider whether it is fair, reasonable, and necessary to remove or trim the tree to prevent:

a)  a risk to someone’s life, health, or property

b)  any unreasonable obstruction of your view

c)   any unreasonable interference with your ability to grow trees or crops; or

d)   any unreasonable interference with your use and enjoyment of your property.

The Court must also take into account whether the tree was already there when you purchased the property, the interests of the public in maintaining an aesthetically pleasing environment, and any historical, cultural, or scientific significance of the tree. And, the Court must be satisfied the refusal to make an order would cause more hardship to you than your neighbour whose tree will be removed or trimmed.

If you are granted an order to remove or trim a tree, your neighbour has 20 working days to carry out the court order (unless the Court has allowed more time). This will often be at your cost. However, if your neighbour has not done the work within the required time, you can ask the neighbour or the Court for permission to go onto your neighbour’s property and do the work on the tree yourself. You will, then, be entitled to recover the full costs of the work from your neighbour.

Should you wish to discuss any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact Michaela Barnes (DDI: (09) 913 2251;