Trees and neighbours
Request the City's permission
If you’d like to prune overhanging branches from a neighbour’s tree, you need to apply for permission, as all trees (of a certain size) are protected in the City of Sydney. Although you don’t need your neighbour’s permission, you may want to tell them of your intentions beforehand as a courtesy.
The City will also notify your neighbour of your application and they will be given 14 days to comment on it before it is determined. If we approve your application, all pruning must be done on your property – the permit does not give you (or your contractor) permission to enter your neighbour’s place. Only your neighbour can give you permission to prune the tree on their property.
Note that you can only apply to prune a neighbour’s tree; the City will not accept your application if it relates to removing a neighbour’s tree. We cannot grant you permission to remove your neighbour's tree without their consent.
Disputes over trees
Disputes over trees can sometimes arise between neighbours; for example if tree roots or branches are damaging a shared fence. In such situations, the first step is always to discuss the problem with your neighbour.
Try to negotiate a solution that satisfies you both. The City of Sydney can’t step in to resolve disputes over trees. Under state laws, councils do not have the authority to order a resident to prune or remove a tree, even if it is impacting on a neighbouring property.
Disputes between neighbours need to be resolved between the parties. If an agreement can’t be reached, the next step is mediation (organised by a Community Justice Centre) or legal action in the Land and Environment Court.
Community Justice Centres provide free mediation services to people across NSW. If you and a neighbour are locked in a dispute over a tree, mediation is a practical alternative to legal action. A trained mediator will meet with you and your neighbour to discuss the problem and help you to resolve it.
If mediation fails, property owners can apply to the NSW Land and Environment Court to resolve the matter. Under NSW law, the court can make orders to “remedy, restrain or prevent damage to a property” (or injury to a person) caused by a tree on adjoining land. The court may also order compensation for damage already caused by a tree.
You can only apply to the court if you’ve already made a reasonable attempt to resolve the situation. Check the Land and Environment Court’s website before you consider making an application.
Note: This information and the relevant law (the Tree (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006) only applies to trees on private property. If you have concerns about a tree located on Council land, contact us.
City of Sydney02 9265 firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated: Wednesday, 29 August 2012