Can I cut my neighbours trees that are overhanging on my property?

Published by TreeLine Admin on

As the experts on tree pruning in Perth, we understand that overhanging trees are a common problem – but if you are thinking about cutting or trimming any trees that are overhanging on your property, it’s important to note that there are rules in place.

The simple answer is: yes, you are within your rights to trim any branches which are overhanging on your property. But there are a few things to keep in mind before you get started.

Unless the tree is protected by a tree preservation order, you are allowed to:

  • Cut an overhanging branch back to the point where it enters your property.
  • Dig up the root and cut a tree root back to the boundary or fence line of your property.

You should take care not to cause unnecessary damage to the tree. If you are planning to remove a large number of branches or roots which could damage the tree, it’s best to discuss this with your neighbour first and give them the opportunity to arrange for the branches or roots to be pruned.

You must not:

  • Cut the branch or root on your neighbour’s side of the boundary.
  • Poison the neighbour’s tree or any roots that are on your property.
  • Enter your neighbour’s property without their agreement.

It’s also a good idea to speak to an expert. You can find out more about our tree services in Perth here.

Who has to pay the cost of removing branches or pay for repairs?

Once your neighbour becomes aware of the problems caused by their tree, they have a responsibility to fix them to ensure the issues do not continue or get worse.

They can also be responsible for paying to have it pruned back to the boundary line or for any repairs required to fix damage caused by fallen branches or tree roots. But, if possible, you should discuss the issue with your neighbour and agree on these points (such as who will pay) before you begin.

Your neighbour may want to organise pruning the tree – either by doing the work themselves or hiring a professional arborist in Perth or your local area. If you hire someone to carry out the tree pruning before talking to your neighbour, it could lead to disputes later on about who should pay and whether the costs were reasonable.

If you need to have repairs done or hire a specialist to remove the roots or branches, it’s best to write a letter to your neighbour with the following information:

  • Outline the problem or damage (perhaps include some photos to show them).
  • Provide copies of quotes for getting the work done.
  • Ask them to pay for any work to fix the problem or repair the damage.

You should keep a copy of the letter. If you cannot agree on what to do, or who should pay, there are mediation services available that can help resolve the dispute.

Who is responsible for the waste?

Technically your neighbour is responsible, and you will be able to leave any waste on their side of the boundary. In reality, we live in a society that functions on people getting along, so it’s generally best practice to dispose of the waste yourself if you’re able to.

Neighbours’ trees and the law

As we mentioned, there are laws on trimming trees outside of your property’s boundary, and they will vary depending on the city or local council you are in.

These laws apply to the trimming of any tree, not just those located in your neighbour’s yard. So, ensure you have looked up your local tree trimming laws. If your city or local council says it’s okay to trim a tree, then you are well within your rights to remove branches from a tree encroaching on your property.

The only catch is you will need to make sure you are not upsetting the stability of the tree – for example, removing all the branches on your side could damage the overall tree.

A local arborist in Perth (like us!) will be able to tell you which branches can be removed, and what needs to stay.

Be mindful of protected tree species

Another important point to keep in mind is that there are certain protected tree species in Australia.

This means there is a chance the tree in question might be untouchable. So, whether it’s a tree on your property encroaching on a neighbour’s property (or vice-versa), neither party will be able to damage or remove it.

If you are unsure, the best bet is to contact your local arborist or tree services provider in Perth and seek professional assistance.

Resolving tree disputes between neighbours

It’s always recommended that you speak to your neighbour before seeking permission from your city or getting quotes. Most of the time your neighbour will be understanding and give their consent. This is simply a courtesy to keep things civil, as you are well within your rights to remove branches encroaching on your property.

There are cases, however, where a neighbour won’t allow you to touch the tree. As long as you don’t need to access their property to prune the tree, you can legally go ahead and do it. Technically, you don’t need their permission. If it is lawful to trim the tree, then go for it.

If it’s necessary to access their yard to trim the tree, you will need to lodge a dispute with your local city or council.

What if it’s a council tree overhanging my property?

In some cases, your neighbour is a public park or causeway, and the offending tree is on council property. This is a slightly different situation.

Firstly, under no circumstance are you allowed to trim a tree on public land. You will land yourself a large fine, so avoid this at all costs.

Thankfully, you can easily request that the council to come out and trim the tree for you. The disadvantage is that it could take a little while to actually get a response from the council. But the good news is they will foot 100% of the bill, so it’s worth the wait.

My neighbour cut my tree without permission, what can I do?

If the shoe is on the other foot and you have arrived home to find your tree has been hacked at and you suspect it was your neighbour then depending on the outcome you seek, there are a couple of different things you can do.

If you feel they have acted outside the law, you would need to refer to your local council’s tree preservation order to see if they trimmed the tree without a permit. If they have, you can report them, and they will most likely be fined.

Can my neighbour force me to cut my trees down?

If you are on the receiving end and the trees are on your property, then yes, your neighbour does have a case to remove any part of the tree overhanging their property. If the majority of the tree is overhanging their property and the council says it’s okay to remove the tree, then there is a good chance the disputes council with side with them. And unfortunately, it will be at your expense.

What can I do if my neighbours’ trees are blocking sunlight?

If you have solar panels on your roof or your lawn is suffering because of your neighbours’ trees, then you can ask them to have the trees pruned or removed.

But it’s within their right to say no, in which case you would need to go to the council disputes centre to plead your case. Most of the time a council will want to keep a tree if possible, so if it’s just an issue with sunlight restriction, you might not have much of a case. If the tree is unstable or unsafe, then you might have a fighting chance.

Looking for tree services in Perth?

If you’re looking for a qualified arborist in Perth or the surrounding territory, make sure you turn to the experts. Our experienced team will ensure your home (and your neighbours’), land and foliage are well looked after.

If you have any questions about hiring an arborist or are looking for professional tree pruning in Perth, contact the team at TreeLine today. We understand trees, and how to take care of them.