Information about how to resolve a dispute with your neighbour about trees, hedges and overhanging branches

Trees include any woody perennial plant and any plant resembling a tree in form and size. Bamboo, tiger grass/giant clumping grass and any plant that is a vine are recognised as a tree.

A hedge is defined as two or more trees over 2.5 metres high (above ground level) that are planted together to form a hedge.

For more information, see Trees and plants.

You are responsible to maintain trees on your property. 

If a tree from a neighbour’s land is causing damage to your property, or you are concerned that there is a risk of injury to a person, you should speak to your neighbour and seek advice from an arborist to assess the tree.

If a neighbour’s tree has caused damage to your property, you should:

  • take photos of the damage
  • speak to your neighbour
  • get a report from an arborist
  • get a written quote for repairs.

If you can’t reach an agreement with your neighbour through negotiation or mediation at Community Justice Centres, an application can be made to the Land and Environment Court for an order to have the tree removed, maintained or compensation paid for the damage. 

If your neighbour’s tree fell on your property during a storm, you neighbour may not be responsible for the damage unless they were aware that the tree was in a dangerous condition. 

If you are insured, you will need to check your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to see if you are covered.

If your neighbour’s tree has overhanging branches, you should speak to your neighbour and check with your local council before cutting back to the boundary.

Some trees are protected species and subject to a Tree Preservation Order. This means you need permission from your local council before you cut back the branches. If you are not sure, check with your Local Council first. You can be fined if you interfere with a protected tree.

Do not enter your neighbour’s land without their permission or damage the tree.

If your neighbour's tree is dropping leaves, flowers, seeds or fruit and this is causing a problem, you should speak to your neighbour to see if you can reach an agreement. If you need help negotiating with your neighbour, you can try mediation at Community Justice Centres. The Court is unlikely to make an order about dropping leaves, flowers, seeds or fruit unless it causes damage to property or likely to cause injury to a person.

Some trees or hedges can block sunlight or water views. 

You should speak to your neighbour first and try free mediation at Community Justice Centres.

If you are unable to resolve your dispute with your neighbour, you can apply to the Land and Environment Court for an order. 

Before you apply to the Court, you should get a shade diagram from an expert to support your claim. You will need to show that the tree is severely obstructing the sun or the view. 

If you live in an area close to the bush, there ​are certain areas that have been identified as 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement areas. This means the area may be affected by bushfires.

You are allowed to:

  • clear trees on your property that are within 10 metres of your home, without seeking approval

  • clear underlying vegetation (other than trees) such as shrubs on your property within 50 metres of a home, without seeking approval. 

You can Check if you’re in a 10/50 area.

You are not allowed to clear your neighbour’s land. 

The Land and Environment Court of NSW can make orders to:

  • remedy, restrain or prevent a neighbour’s tree from causing damage to a property
  • prevent injury to a person
  • remedy, restrain or prevent a neighbour’s high hedge from severely obstructing sunlight or view from their home.

A stamped copy of the application must be served on the neighbour and the local council at least 21 days before the preliminary hearing. The neighbour can respond by filing a Notice of Appearance with the Court.

You need supporting documents such as photos, videos, diagrams and expert reports from arborists. 

Before considering an application, you should speak to a private lawyer about your situation and if it is worth starting a claim. 

  • Time Limit

    Time Limit

    The time limit to apply for a claim for compensation for damage to property is six years from the date of the damage.

    There are no time limits to apply to the Land and Environment Court of NSW unless you are applying for compensation.