Dispute - Neighbour's Large Tree Completely Shadowing My Home

Hey guys,

So my neighbour has a massive 3 storey high tree that is overshadowing my backyard. I get very little sun because of this, and even my other neighbour is affected by this. A friend said that they had a similar tree removed from their home for about $3-4k in the past so I assume that's a ballpark figure for a large tree.

I've mentioned this to them 6 months ago but they haven't done anything. I know the next step is to get the council involved which I will. I just don't have an extra $2k to chip in (if it comes to that) right now so I'm not in much of a hurry. I just want to prepare and do my due diligence in case anything happens. I've had lots of branches fall into my backyard over the years and I was thinking if it ever falls and damages my property, I wanna make sure I've at least put in the steps to showcase that I've informed them about it already so at least they're held responsible.

So my question is:-
- from a legal standpoint, lets say that trees gets hit by lightning one day, falls and damages my home, and they had prior notice of this very large tree that they didn't do anything about, who's liable for paying for damages?
- does anyone have experiences to share on how they resolved this issue if they encountered something similar?


  • You can’t control what trees someone else has on their property. They are not liable for lighting hitting their tree and then damaging your property, that’s what your insurance is for.

    If it damages a fence some councils have both owners pay half costs. That’s as far as it goes.

    The only other case where they could even possibly be liable is if they were negligent; specifically if a reasonable person would know the tree was unhealthy, diseased, termite ridden, and they did nothing. Lightning doesn’t count (you can’t control lightning, every tree doesn’t get hit by lightning, and you can’t chop down every tree on the off chance it attracted lightning) and those other cases would be for your insurance to chase up not you.


    • +154 votes


      What you do in the privacy of your own bedroom is your business. There's no need to announce it here.

    • Thanks for your opinion. It's a fair and logical one. I should probably refresh my memory on what's covered in my home insurance. It's just a really massive tree and it could literally destroy my home if it ever fell. I always assumed the insurance company would squirm their way out of a claim like that.

      • That is a faulty assumption. They would be on the current affairs shows as Australia’s dodgiest insurer if they tried.

      • What makes you assume it's going to fall?

      • Are you going to stop every car from driving down your street because some random unlikely event could happen to cause it to crash into your house?

        Probably a bad example, but if that tree is 3 stories high, I imagine it’s been there a very long time, and withstood thousands of storms, I think you’re safe,

      • It's just a really massive tree and it could literally destroy my home if it ever fell.

        Hurricanes can also destroy your home.

        So can bush fires.

        So can a car flying through your front wall.

        So can a plane falling from the sky.

        So can a vandal walking past with a baseball bat.

        So can a flood on a rainy day.

        So can an earthquake.

        Let's not forget about a zombie apocalypse.

        Or what about if aliens came and took your house away?

        Is your neighbour responsible for all those events too?

    • It’s likely the neighbour is liable for the damages.

      Refer to the Fences Act for the general obligations on people to pay for damaging a boundary fence. Other damage like roots cracking pipes, foundations or pathways is usually covered under property law.

    • This isn't all fun and games, get the insurance to cough up if something happens ha ha. People need to understand that trees this size are blatantly dangerous and can drop branches that will crush and kill people under it. In the event that it gets hit by lightning and crushes a house, it could easily orphan an entire household by killing the mum and dad simultaneously. This is a serious problem and many Australians die every year because of this, even when just driving by in the streets.

      If it's growing over your property your neighbor cannot refuse to let you trim it down (on your side only, you own it), however you'll need to pony up if it's important to you. They are not liable for any costs as they did not plant that tree and they are not running a business.

    • And you have my AXE!

    • wondering how about if a strong wind blow the branch / break the tree and damage other property?
      because we used to have a palm tree, and we cut it down because of we afraid this thing happen.


      Oh, you're a legal and insurance expert! Lucky you! You don't need insurance - that's what insurance is for. Hey, that sounds stupid too.

  • who pays if the tree is slowly pushing the fence? its growing and will damage sooner or later.

    • Talk to the council. In our area, our large native tree's roots were causing the neighbour driveway to lift & concrete sections were no longer flat. This was not a valid ground to have the tree removed. And damaging the roots was not an option, eg. to prevent further damage to the driveway. The driveway was repaired as best possible, and that was it.

      • Damaging the roots was not an option? I've never seen this stated. Just dig down to the root on your side of the fence, cut the root completely, apply Glyphosate liberally, and backfill. Completely within your rights as the roots are on your property (just make sure it's not on the verge/council property).

        You are only protecting your side of the property, but interacting with something growing on your property. No way they can touch you for doing that.

        • Absolutely idiotic. Killing the roots is a surefire way to ensure the tree blows over in the next storm. And your legal entitlement to do this is also very questionable as you are still doing malicious damage to someone else's property; you could be charged with a criminal offence, not merely sued.

          If it's struck by lightning and falls on OP's house then OP's insuracne will cover it and the insurance company will go after the neighbour or their insurance to recover the payout - less of course any excess. You may then be theoretically entitled to get the excess back from yuor neighbour but it is unlikely to be worth the time, stress and general unpleasantness to legally fight them over a couple of hundred dollars.

          • @derrida derider: The roots on your side of the fence are not someone else's property though, so chop away.

            Applying the glyphosate is debatable though. :)

            edit: Actually I think they are technically still the neighbours property. You are still allowed to chop though, they just need to be returned to the neighbour after you chop em out

    • Most council's won't get involved. They leave it up to the parties to sort it out. Depending on your council, if a tree branch overhangs your fence you are allowed to cut it back to the fence line.

  • What came first, you moving into your house or a big tree being next door?

    • +85 votes

      The sense of entitlement before all else.

      • -57 votes

        So a large tree that towers over my 2/3rd of my small back yard, entirely covering my clothes hanger from any sun, makes me over entitled here? Asking on a forum on opinion of the legalities of potential damages if they were to arise, is entitlement? A private nuisance according to Disputes Victoria is when your use and enjoyment of your land is being affected. You make it sound like I have zero entitlement here.

        • think of it this way, the shade has protected your clothing/garmets all these years effectively saving you money! :)

        • The point is that you are looking for reasons to have the tree removed. But everyone else can tell that the core reason is that you dont like it and that you want to impose your will unreasonably on someone else.

        • Dear neighbour,

          I live next door and I would like to bring to attention a problem you may be able to assist with.

          From the approximate hours of 2pm-sunset, my small backyard is shadowed by a structure erected on your property. This shadow is depriving me of the enjoyment of my land.

          The aforementioned shadow casts a dark and grim mood on my garden and I fear under certain conditions, some of the roofing and gutter may detach and cause severe sexual trauma to my pet gerbil.

          I suggest we immediately remove the 3-bedroom 2-bathroom or alternatively, help me annex the land adjacent my backyard so I may fulfil the desired outcome of my real estate acquisition.

          I come to you with neighbourly spirit and wish our families generations of mutual consideration.

          …or I will engage my legal practitioners.

          Warmest regards

        • +9 votes

          You saw the tree before you moved in, and decided to buy the property anyway. The only party at fault here is yourself. What kind of idiot cries about a tree next door AFTER choosing to live there?

        • Should notice that before you bought the house! Duh.

        • It is entitled if it was there before you.

          You knew what you were buying

        • +1 vote

          You would have factored in this "private nuisance" when you made an offer on the house, wouldn't you?

        • You're like the neighbour who moves in next to a pub then complains about the music.

    • This thread reminds me of people who move into a place near an airport or a RAAF base then complain about the noise.

      • I almost think this is worse. Trees literally keep us and many other things alive.

        But correct, the tree would have been there much earlier than OP moving in. If they were so concerned about due diligence, it’s a wonder they didn’t do any about their home before moving in…

        • I would like top complain to the council, to remove all trees in my neighbourhood, as the birds singing in the morning wake me up !

      • The one that repeatedly comes up is move near a pub/music venue then complain

  • Don't live in a green area.
    Neighbours tried this on me once before in a rental, then complained about too much sun, heat and had multiple air conditioners installed instead.
    Was better with the trees.

  • I've had lots of branches fall into my backyard over the years

    This sounds like the common Widow Maker. There is little to chance that council is going to force the owner to prune or cut it down. It’s either buy insurance or move out.

  • I've mentioned this to them 6 months ago but they haven't done anything.

    LOL, just LOL.

    • LOL. That is called "entitled". Hey mate, you got a big ass tree there, can you cut it down please. It will only cost you $3-4k. I expect it to happen within 6 months alright!

  • We had a similar issue with one of our trees, the neighbour was worried about a large branch which 'may' have hit their roof if it ever broke off. I said they are welcome to have the branch removed, which they did at their expense.

  • https://insurancelaw.org.au/factsheets/when-a-tree-falls-in-...

    I would talk to council and see if the dropped branches means it:
    is near the boundary and is in a dangerous condition, or
    belongs to a species which is known to ‘drop’ branches

    I think it sucks you are liable for damage from their tree but I would make sure you have suitable insurance.

  • +2 votes

    The only way you can force a tree to be cut down is if it is unhealthy.
    An arborist would prepare a report saying that it needed to come down. DO NOT TAKE THIS AS ADVICE TO POISON THE TREE. I am not saying that at all.
    It is criminal and if you were caught you would get in a lot of trouble.

  • Someone drilled holes into the tree and poured sulfuric acid trying to kill a tree blocking their bay view near us .

    • Don't complain when someone will draw a dick with a key on your car bonnet next time

    • There are councils in Sydney that will block the newly created view with a banner and only remove the banner when the replanted tree is fully grown.

  • +23 votes

    Damn trees growing 3 feet in diameter and 30 feet up overnight.

  • Can we see an MS Paint of the tree and your house please?

  • +13 votes

    If a tree falls on to a house and there is no MS paint diagram did the tree actually fall?


      There is one now…which begs the question , if your house is not in the MS paint, did you even have a house to begin with?🤔

  • So you're throwing in an act of God in your dispute? Crikey.

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