Monthly Archives: November 2021

Can I cut my neighbours tree?

Find out what you can and cannot do in Melbourne? It’s not unusual in suburban yards for a neighbours tree to grow taller than your fenceline....

Find out what you can and cannot do in Melbourne?

It’s not unusual in suburban yards for a neighbours tree to grow taller than your fenceline. This might mean that the branches can grow over into your property, leaves will drop into your yard and roots might impose into your yard. Sometimes it can be a blessing (hello free lemons) sometimes it’s messy and other times it can be unsafe or damaging.

So what can you do about Cutting back your neighbour’s tree In Melbourne and how can you avoid a dispute in the neighbourhood?

This weeks blog will help you find a solution with simple straightforward facts and resources for further information.

Can I trim my neighbours’ tree?

Put simply, yes you can. If it is overhanging onto your property.  However, you may only trim it back to the fence line of the property. This is called Right of Abatement. This applies when the tree is not protected by the council.

There are rules to how much you can trim a tree and you must take into consideration if the tree requires a permit. Typically you can trim a tree up to 10% per year in the state of Victoria but it would pay to check with your local Melbourne council for any additional rules or exceptions.  You can find out your specific councils rules here

In Victoria, you cannot go onto your neighbour’s property without their consent for tree removal or tree pruning.  

So who pays?

Well, the cost of trimming is your responsibility but If you cause damage to the tree or any of your neighbours’ property in the process you will be liable for that damage. 

If you call us to trim a tree on a neighbouring property we will happily do the job but will only trim a tree to the limits of the law. However, we will take into consideration how the reduction will impact the structural integrity and health of the tree. We are not tree loppers so we do not indiscriminately remove ranches without thinking about the future of the tree in terms of growth and longevity.   

If you are looking to get your neighbour to remove a tree the same rules apply and some trees require a permit for removal. Tree Amigos Victoria arborists will provide information as t whether you need a permit for tree removal or trimming. 

So if you’re just looking to cut a tree flat on one side of a fence we are not the folks to do that.

What about Damage to my property?

If there is damage or private nuisance caused to your property by a neighbours tree, they will be responsible for payment of trimming or removal. Chat with your neighbour about the impact the tree is having and discuss the options available to you. 

If your neighbour does not agree to cut back the tree you can apply to the court for a private nuisance claim. The court will decide if the impact is significant enough to enforce the removal of cutting back of the tree. Going to court is a time consuming and costly matter and we recommend talking to your neighbour and discussing all options before you take that route. 

If you do decide to go down that path you will need to get legal advice. Your council will not help you with resolving and tree-related disputes. 

What if the overhanging tree is council protected?

If there is a tree on council land that is causing issues you cannot just trim them yourself. You will need to contact your local council who will send an arborist to take a look and determine what action needs to be taken to improve the enjoyment of your property and how to manage the tree in question. 

What can I do to resolve disputes regarding neighbouring trees?

Neighbourhood disputes are never fun and sometimes you won’t see eye to eye, We hope that everyone can come to a resolution without having to make the decision to take further action.

Here are our tips for approaching a neighbour and trying for a mutual resolution to your tree-related issue; 

  • Get to know your neighbour. Know their name and say ‘Hi’ when you see them. It sounds simple but being friendly is a great starting point. 
  • Chat to them about your concerns and let them know what your thoughts are on how you can resolve the issue.
  • Listen to them and their suggestions 
  • Consider their concerns 
  • Understand your rights and obligations and share the information with your neighbour about them so you’re both aware 
  • Ask yourself what you’re willing to negotiate over and know that you may have to consider a different outcome than you hope for. 


Remember that your neighbour is not obliged to cut back their own tree and the council will not get involved with dispute resolution. 

You can seek free mediation through the dispute settlement centre of Victoria and for practical information about the laws in Victoria you can read them here