CAB: Are you having tree trouble?

Trees have always been a bone of contention among neighbours and we at Citizens Advice Bureau hear about it very often.

Whether your neighbour’s tree is blocking your sun, obstructing your view, its branches are overhanging your property or its roots are growing into your drains, or causing damage to your property, it’s always preferable if you can reach an agreement with your neighbour about the course of action.

If you cannot come to an agreement informally, you could try mediation – if both parties are willing to participate. Otherwise you can apply to the www.cab.org.nz/vat/gl/court/Pages/DisputesTribunal.aspx”  if the damage is no more than $15,000, or $20,000 if both parties agree.

Or  www.cab.org.nz/vat/gl/court/Pages/Districtcourt.aspx”  (for damages valued at more than $15,000) to claim for the cost of repairing the damage to your property) – but remember that these options can ruin any goodwill that may have existed between you and your neighbour.

The court may make the order if:

there is a risk or damage to your property or harm to someone

the tree is unduly interfering with your enjoyment of your property because of falling leaves, fruit, branches etc. or  it is blocking the light or your view

the tree is interfering with your drains or gutters

The court will not make the order if doing so would cause more hardship to your neighbour than the hardship you’d have to suffer if the court did not make the order.

If the court makes an order that your neighbour must cut back or remove their tree, then generally you are responsible for paying for the work. However the owner of the tree should take reasonable steps to stop the trees interfering with their neighbour’s enjoyment of their own properties, so if the court thinks your neighbour hasn’t fulfilled this responsibility they may require your neighbour to pay for some or all of the work.

Generally www.lgnz.co.nz/nzs-local-government/new-zealands-councils/”  will only get involved with issues involving a tree on private property if it is a protected tree or it is causing problems near a public road or other public property (for example its branches are overhanging the footpath).

  • Solutions Column complied by Vani is a regular column from  the  Pakuranga  Citizens Advice Bureau,  Library Building, Pakuranga,  Phone 576 8331 and Botany Citizens Advice Bureau,  rear Food Court Entrance, Botany Town Centre,  phone  271 5382 or phone  0800 267 222 for  free and  informative help.