Trees on Neighbouring Property

Council has no power to compel a neighbour to prune or remove a tree, including recently planted trees. If you have a concern about a neighbour's tree, it is best to resolve the issue by having a friendly discussion with them. Most neighbours will be helpful and understanding.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I prune overhanging branches from a neighbour's tree?

You may prune your neighbour’s trees or vegetation which overhangs your property where the exemptions contained within Council’s Tree and Vegetation Preservation Measures Part 1B.6 can be applied.  The relevant exemption provides scope to undertake pruning up to 10 percent of the canopy.  If you are using this exemption all the works must be in accordance with the Australian Standard for Pruning Amenity Trees AS4373-2007.

Failure to undertake works in accordance with the exemption is prescribed in the Councils Tree Preservation Measures Part 1B.6 may result in may be taken to the Land and Environment Court or receive an on-the-spot fine from Council.

The exemptions contained within Councils Tree and Vegetation Preservation Measures cannot be applied properties located in either of the following:-

  • A mapped Heritage Conservation Area or a heritage listed property
  • A mapped Endangered Ecological Communities (EEC) area and in compliance with any relevant Hornsby Shire tree protection measures contained within the HDCP 2013.

Where the exemptions do not apply a Permit for tree and vegetation works will be required from Council to undertake the works.  Any application for a Permit will require the consent from the owner of the tree.

What if my neighbour's trees are in Heritage Conservation Areas, Heritage Listed Properties and Endangered Ecological Communities

Council’s Tree and Vegetation Preservation Measures Part 1B.6 does not provide any exemptions for properties within a Heritage Conservation Area, Heritage listed items or Endangered Ecological Communities. This means you will need the following:

  • A Permit for tree and vegetation works where a property is listed as a heritage item or located within a designated Heritage Conservation Area Council.
  • A Permit for tree and vegetation works in instances where a property is located within designated Endangered Ecological Community area.  You can find out if the property falls into either of these categories through this by contacting Council on 9847 6666.

Download a map showing conservation area boundaries - Hornsby Shire Council Heritage Conservation Areas - 1.1MB.

For a full list of the Shire's HCAs and heritage items, including details, see the Hornsby Local Environment Plan (HLEP).

What should I do if I have a dispute with my neighbours about trees?

Council cannot arbitrate in disputes relating to neighbours and trees. The best option is to follow the steps below:

  1. Notify your neighbour in writing of the damage/nuisance being caused and giving your neighbour the opportunity to rectify the problem before taking further action.
  2. Try and reach an agreement with your neighbour about what should be done before proceeding.
  3. If you are having difficulties negotiating a mutually beneficial outcome you should contact the Community Justice Centre (CJC) on 1800 990 777 for assistance in the first instance.

The CJC is a government funded organisation designed to assist people to resolve disputes. The service provided is free and the mediators provided are professionally trained.  The service provides a safe, independent forum where the mediators will sit down with the parties in an attempt to resolve the matter quickly and possibly save the parties legal cost from court action.

If the matter cannot be resolved through the above process then Legal advice may be needed to be obtained in such disputes from an solicitor or the Community Justice Centre to see if the matter needs to be resolved in the NSW Land and Environment Court.

The NSW Land and Environment Court has the power to settle tree disputes. You can apply to the Land and Environment Court for action to be taken. It's essential that you make a reasonable attempt to resolve the situation before approaching the court.

More Information

For more information about trees and neighbours, please visit NSW Land and Environment Court.