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Advice on civil disputes involving vegetation and trees

If you are involved in a civil dispute involving trees and vegetation, the information below will assist in resolving the dispute. For additional information on common disputes such as when trees are in the way of a boundary fence and branches/leaves falling from the neighbouring property, see also Common civil disputes involving trees and vegetation.

Please note that this advice was provided by the Department of Justice and Attorney General – Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011, previously known as the Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution Act 2011, commenced on 1 November 2011. The provisions of the Act allow residents to resolve neighbourhood disputes more easily. It also encourages residents to be good neighbours and resolve their disputes concerning trees and fences in a friendly and timely manner.

Talk to your neighbours

In neighbourhood disputes, the best approach is to try and reach an amicable agreement. Generally, liaising with your neighbour is better than using a third party; however an objective mediator can assist neighbours to reach a mutually agreed solution. Mediators are available through the Dispute Resolution Centre or the Gold Coast Community Legal Centre & Advice Bureau Inc. Legal action should be a last resort as it can escalate difficult neighbour relations.

Resolving disputes

Every year, thousands of Queenslanders find themselves in the middle of a neighbourhood dispute about a tree or a fence. The Act outlines the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved.

Under the Act, the proper care and maintenance of a tree will be the responsibility of the treekeeper. The Act provides greater choices for neighbours about trees affecting their property.

The laws set clear rules about dividing fences in urban areas. The Act includes a wider definition of the term fence (including hedges) and a clearer definition of the term 'sufficient dividing fence'.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) has jurisdiction to hear and decide any matter in relation to a tree in which it is alleged that the land is affected by the tree. QCAT provides a single tribunal through which the community can access justice. QCAT provides the community with a more accessible, informal and responsive means of resolving neighbourhood disputes.

The Act does not apply to all trees

The Act does not apply to:

  • trees situated on rural land
  • land that is more than four hectares in size
  • land owned by a local government that is used as a public park
  • trees planted or maintained for commercial purposes or as a condition of a development approval.

The application of the trees provisions is limited to urban areas and to cases where the land affected by a tree adjoins a neighbour’s property or where the land is separated by a road.

Further information

For general information about the Act, refer to:

Queensland Government
Department of Justice and Attorney General
State Law Building, 50 Ann Street
Telephone: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)

If further information or assistance is required, the following agencies may be able to help:

Dispute Resolution Centre (Mediation Service)
363 George Street
Telephone: 1800 017 288

Gold Coast Community Legal Centre Advice Bureau Inc.
34 Railway Street
Telephone: 07 5532 9611

My Community Legal Gold Coast
Robina Community Centre
196 Town Centre Drive
Telephone: 0423 466 286

Legal Aid Office
First Floor, 100 Scarborough Street
Telephone: 1300 651 188

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