Neighbourhood Tree Disputes

Good fences may make good neighbours, but trees grow as they will, breaking property lines, causing damage and nuisance, and bringing otherwise friendly neighbours into dispute. Making matters worse are the unclear, scattered and obscure laws about neighbourhood trees.       

As part of our Community Law Reform Program, the Commission inquired into neighbourhood tree disputes. Specifically, we examined the laws governing disputes between neighbours of private land involving trees that cause damage. All current practices in tree dispute resolution came under our review, which also considered whether laws should be changed to provide better, fairer ways of resolving such disputes. (Note that we did not consider disputes about trees on public land or disputes about trees that block sunlight and views.)

Initiated in June 2017, the inquiry produced, after initial research, a consultation paper, from which 38 public submissions were received. All are available via the links below.

Tabled in parliament on 27 November 2019, the Commission's final report made 63 recommendations. You can read or download the full report below (pdf, HTML or Word) or in summary form (pdf and Word).  

For a quick overview of the issues, watch the short video below, take our tree disputes quiz or wander through a thicket of published media.   

Video

What are your options when you have a tree dispute? Watch our video to find out what you can do.

Media

Rooting out conflict over trees by Karin Derkley. Law Institute Journal (online) 19 December 2017

Turning over a new leaf. (2018) 92 Law Institute Journal

Neighbourhood tree disputes - have your say. Everyday-Law blog 30 January 2018

'Poisonings, uprootings and court stoushes: the toxic world of neighbourhood tree disputes', The Law Report, Radio National

 

If you are involved in a tree dispute, the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria may be able to help you.

This inquiry is part of the Victorian Law reform Commission's Community Law Reform Program, in which, in accordance with section 5(1)(b) of the Victorian Law Reform Act 2000, we can initiate inquiries into legal issues of general community concern. 

 

Neighbourhood Tree Disputes Report

Tabled in parliament on 27 November 2019, the final report of the Commission's Community Law Reform Project on Neighbourhood Tree Disputes contained...

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Neighbourhood Tree Disputes Report (html)

Tabled in Parliament on 27 November 2019, the Victorian Law Reform Commission's report into Neighbourhood Tree Disputes responded to community calls...

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Neighbourhood Tree Disputes Report Summary

Tabled in parliament on 27 November 2019, the final report of the Commission's Community Law Reform Project on Neighbourhood Tree Disputes contained...

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Neighbourhood Tree Disputes: Submissions received

The Commission received the following submissions to its review of Neighbourhood Tree Disputes. See the links below to the public submissions, placed...

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Neighbourhood Tree Disputes: Consultation paper (pdf and Word)

The Commission published a Consultation Paper on Neighbourhood Tree Disputes on 15 December 2017, outlining the scope of the inquiry and asking for...

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Neighbourhood Tree Disputes: Quiz

How much do you know about the law of neighbourhood tree disputes? take our quiz and test your knowledge. More information about neighbourhood tree...

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Neighbourhood Tree Disputes: Answers to quiz

Thank you for taking our quiz. For more information about the issues involved in neighbourhood tree disputes, read our consultation paper or some of...

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Neighbourhood Tree Disputes: Consultation Paper (html)

The Commission published Neighbourhood Tree Disputes: Consultation Paper on 15 December 2017.  Submissions closed on 28 February 2018. Navigate...

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Neighbourhood Tree Disputes: Terms of Reference

On 8 June 2017, the Victorian Law Reform Commission was asked to examine the legal framework for resolving disputes between neighbours about trees...

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