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What can you do about nuisance trees?

By Geoff Hardy - 9 May 2018

The storm in Auckland on 10 April caught many people unaware. Trees caused carnage in many neighbourhoods - cutting power lines, falling on parked cars and destroying homes. In fact, many people are now looking at leafy inner city suburbs with fresh eyes. Could we have been growing our own 'weapons of mass destruction' all these years?

If you were affected by the recent storms, you've probably either been on the phone to an arborist already or you're tuning the chainsaw. But what can you do if the trees that bother you belong to your neighbours?

The first common sense suggestion is of course to talk to your neighbours. If you were affected, they may well be next. If you have no joy there, you may want to turn to the law.

The common law tort of nuisance covers incidences where damage is (or in some circumstances may be) caused by trees from neighbouring properties.

Your remedies could be a mandatory injunction (forcing someone to trim or even remove their tree) and/or damages (compensation for the cost of the damage caused to your property by the tree).

These remedies are only available when:

  1. Actual damage has occurred
  2. The trees are inherently dangerous, or
  3. The trees are kept in a dangerous state.

However, the Courts have held that an injunction can be sought for prospective damage in certain circumstances and that a failure to clear land can result in liability.

If you're the owner of a tree, you might want to find out what your obligations are.

If you're the victim of tree damage, you might want to find out what you can do about it.

Contact our litigation team if in doubt.


Geoff Hardy


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