When trees become an issue

What You Should Know if You Want to Maintain Trees on Your Property?

Lush greenery and tree-lined streets are what everybody dreams to have in their neighbourhood. However, too much greenery can cause problems in a residential area. For example, it’s not uncommon to hear about roots affecting the plumbing or pool filters being blocked by fallen leaves. In fact, worse things can happen. Ever heard of branches falling over parked vehicles? Yes. That’s a possibility too.

So, what do you do if you’re the one who owns the suspected tree that caused all these problems? Tree related disputes are quite common. However, it’s not easy to sort them out. Plus, local councils aren’t too helpful when it comes to such matters. To put it simply, you’ll have to deal with it yourself. But, before you take up arms, make sure you have a thorough understanding of your responsibilities and rights.

The Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011

Believe it or not, there is an entire section dedicated to tree-related disputes under the Neighbourhood Disputes Act of 2011. However, the act only applies to trees that grow in specific areas. This includes trees growing on land adjoining your neighbour’s property, on land that has been divided by a road, and on land in urban areas. Trees growing on rural land, government owned land, commercial land and land larger than 4 hectares are not covered by the act.

When Does a Tree Become Your Responsibility?

Well, to answer this question, we must first understand what the act defines a tree as. According to the act, a tree is defined as a perennial, woody plant. However, it doesn’t stop there. The act adds that even if a plant resembles a tree in shape or size, it will be considered as a tree. In other words, a tree could include bushes, shrubs, cactus, and pretty much any plant that is large in size. The act even covers dead trees.

Under the act, you are responsible for the whole tree as long as it’s growing on your property. So, that means, you are responsible even if the tree’s roots interfere with your neighbour’s property.

The next question here is what can be considered as a tree growing on your property? Well, the obvious answer here is that any tree that grows within the limits of your property is obviously your responsibility. But, what happens if the tree grows right on the boundary? Well, according to the act, if the tree covers more of your land than your neighbour’s, then it will fall under your care and maintenance.

However, in rare scenarios where the tree grows perfectly divided among the two boundaries, then both parties are responsible for the tree.

When are You Not Responsible for a Tree?

Well, this is quite simple and obvious. The act clearly states that the owner of the land is the one responsible for the tree. So, if you aren’t the land or property owner, then it is most likely your landlord who will have to take up the responsibility. If your land is owned by an organisation or corporation, then they are responsible for the tree.

Disclosure when selling a property

If you are selling a property that has application to, or an order made by, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) in relation to a tree on the Land, you are required to disclose this to the buyer.

Icon Legal can provide further advice in relation to trees, applications and orders form QCAT.