Trees and fences are a very common cause of disputes between neighbours, and no two situations are exactly alike.
Tree disputes are often about the damage they cause to a neighbour’s property, injury from falling branches, or nuisance – leaves blocking gutters or dropping into a neighbour’s pool.
Dividing fence disputes are often about the building or upkeep of a fence, including the cost, who should pay and how much, and the type or height of the fence; particularly when one neighbour wants a fence for a specific purpose such as keeping in a dog.
In every case the best way to resolve any issues is to discuss it directly with your neighbour. This is a faster, cheaper and less stressful option. However, if you and your neighbour can not come to an agreement this then becomes a matter for a Solicitor and potentially the Court.
- You need to know what the rules are in regards to trees and dividing fences. Think carefully about the trees and shrubs you are planting and make sure that you maintain them by cutting them back regularly. The fence dividing you and your neighbour’s property is owned by both of you. Building or replacing the fence requires consulting your neighbour before any work starts, and ensure you get your neighbours written consent.
- Talk to your neighbour. If your neighbour is not aware the problem they can’t fix it. Organise a time and a place to sit down and have a chat in person. Clearly state what the problem is, how it effects your property and how you feel about it. You also need to give your neighbour a chance to tell their side of the story and ensure that you listen. Work on a resolution together and allow sufficient time if quotes are required to repair any damage. Do not blame your neighbour, call them names or state your point of view on what should be done. This makes the situation harder and less likely for your neighbour to listen to you and fix the problem. Think about how you would like the situation to be handled if your neighbour was coming to you with the problem.
- When you and your neighbour agree on a solution, get it in writing. Agree to get together again in the near future and discuss how things are going.
- If you and your neighbour can’t come to an agreement you will need to seek legal advice to discuss your options to resolve the matter.
- Attend mediation with your neighbour. This is an option to settle disputes without having to attend Court.
- If seeking legal advice and attending mediation does not work, the dispute will need to be resolved through the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT). QCAT’s decision is legally binding and can be enforced through the courts.
If you are experiencing problems with your neighbour regarding a dispute over trees or dividing fences, make an appointment to discuss your matter with Peter Walker.