fenced home with tree
Research report

Trees and neighbours

We explain your rights and responsibilities regarding trees.

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Allen H.
12 May 2021
Neighbours Bamboo

Along a boundary fence line of our property the neighbours bamboo ‘hedge’ is very high and ranges from between 15 to 20 metres. It’s a large diameter variety of approximately 4 to 6cm. We all year round have to continually clean up the leaves it drops, listen to it creaking and knocking in the breeze/wind and also restricts the view as you can imagine. We have approached them about it and the response was a reduction in height of 25% and at our full cost. Reducing height by a quarter is minimal when dealing with something so high as bamboo grows very fast and will continue to get back to the current height. The cost of getting someone in with a cherry picker to work 10 to 15mtrs off the ground would be excessive. Please, where do we stand?

Consumer staff
20 May 2021
Re: Neighbours Bamboo

Hi Allen,

You should probably try talking to your neighbours again because to take legal action would involve going to the District Court, seeking an order that the bamboo be trimmed or removed on the basis that it is interfering with the use and enjoyment of your property. However, that would be an expensive exercise with no guarantee of success.

Kind regards,
Paul - Consumer NZ adviser

Sam P.
28 Apr 2021
Who organises removal of clippings?

My neighbour wanted me to cut a tree back to the boundary on her side of the fence. I did this free of charge even though as far as I’m aware that is their responsibility. Do need to remove the clippings from their property? Or is that their responsibility?

Frank - Consumer staff
03 May 2021
Re: Who organises removal of clippings?

Hi Sam, you can put the clippings on the neighbour’s side of the boundary. Cuttings and fruit belong to your neighbour.

Kind regards,
Frank - Consumer NZ adviser

Elizabeth R.
12 Mar 2021
Trees cut down on my property whilst waiting for a quote!

Hi Consumer
I have been in email contact with a rent care property management agency who look after the neighboring house. They said that a couple of trees on my property were causing damp on an interior wall to their rental property. The renters had taken them to rent tribunal and it needed fixing.
The trees are a cabbage tree (sits just above roofline at its highest) and a punga, which were there when we purchased the house and no comment was made about issues caused by trees in the builders inspection- almost 2 yrs ago.
In emails it was agreed that quotes would be given before trees were cut down.
Today the trees were cut down without our permission. Noone had contacted us. Everyone was out.
What can I do now? Will I have to pay costs? No quotes were sent to me, as was agreed would happen, I had emailed them yesterday to confirm that a detailed quote was necessary.
The contractor were clearly trespassing.
What do I do now?

Frank - Consumer staff
16 Mar 2021
Re: Trees cut down on my property whilst waiting for a quote!

Hi Elizabeth,

Did the Tenancy Tribunal give the property managers an order to say the trees have to be removed? And if the trees are the likely cause of the mould, how? It is usually a combination of factors. I suggest you ask for a copy of the Tenancy Tribunal report. If your trees are part of the problem, then you are responsible.

Usually a tree removal notice is given by a court under sections s332-338 Property Law Act 2007 Subpart 4—Trees and unauthorised improvements on neighbouring land. If a notice is issued, there is usually 20 working days to remove a tree and they have the right to go onto your property to do so. I am not sure if the Tenancy Tribunal has the authority to issue a tree removal notice.

You don’t mention the period of time between the property managers notifying you, and the trees being cut down.

If your trees are the problem, and you dispute the bill as too high – if you get sent one – you would have to go to the Disputes Tribunal to show what the reasonable cost should have been.

If your trees weren’t the problem, then the property manager is responsible for reimbursing you for the loss of your trees.

Kind regards,
Maggie - Consumer NZ adviser

Elizabeth R.
27 Mar 2021
Thank you - Trees cut down on my property whilst waiting for a quote!

Thank you for your advice. Since my question this is how it is now...
The Tribunal notice does not specify why there is mould in the neighbour's house and no mention of the garden or trees. It was stated that the cause was unknown. I do not know of a tree removal notice.
The landlord (property managers) had to rectify the problem.
There was a surprise site visit on 3/3, where property manager, builder and owners turned up to our front garden. Then, 9/3, a very short email saying they need to get rid of those trees. We said we would get quotes and get back to them. 3 days later, without notice a contractor turned up and removed the trees, leaving stumps.
So now it has been agreed that I do not pay for the cost of tree removal. But after reading your advice, the trees were not identified to be a problem in the beginning. it is still guess work!
Contractors are coming to remove the garden that is next to the neighbours wall. But have not told us what they are doing apart from removing the garden.

Thanks again. I hope this helps others in a similar situation as it is quite confusing.

Yvette Hodge
24 Jul 2020
Developer cut our tree down

We had a very large tree that provided shelter, privacy and most importantly looked great. It must have been in excess of 50 years old. The tree was 99% on our property but the trunk did protrude slightly onto the neighbours property.

It was doing zero damage to their property as it was a vacant lot. The neighbour one day had a company come in an chop down the tree and remove it over the next day while we were at work. There was zero consultation.

What are our rights? We want a tree the same size back there now, but of course that is impossible.

The developers are a very large company which are likely to be difficult to deal with.

Kind regards

Consumer staff
27 Jul 2020
Re: Developer cut our tree down

Hi Yvette,

Sorry to hear about the problem with unauthorised removal of your tree by the next door property developer. Unfortunately, this isn’t the usual kind of tree issue Consumer deals with, so you may need to seek legal advice about your rights.

Kind regards,
Maggie - Consumer NZ staff

Simon M.
15 Jul 2020
Base of tree trunk on boundary line - who is responsible?

Hi,
There is a tree that is mostly on my property (about 80% of the base of the tree trunk is on my side of the boundary line, 20% on the neighbors side of boundary line) which the neighbors say is causing cracks in their driveway. They've asked me to do something about it which I'm happy to do. Before I do though, I'd like to understand how the costs may be shared, if at all.
Should any costs related to the removal or reduction of the tree be borne equally or am I liable for a greater share since most of the tree is on my side of the boundary? Also, should any of their driveway repair costs be my responsibility?
The tree has been there for many years - certainly long before I moved into my property 4 years ago.

Consumer staff
20 Jul 2020
Re: Base of tree trunk on boundary line - who is responsible?

Hi Simon,

If the tree was planted on the boundary, you have equal responsibility for the costs of removing it.

If the tree was planted on your property and has simply spread onto your neighbour’s property, you will be responsible for removal costs, and you’d also be liable for the damage to the driveway (assuming the damage is all caused by the tree).

Kind regards,
Paul - Consumer NZ staff

Carol C.
12 Jul 2020
Sharing the cost

I have a question. A resident has had an application approved to remove a large scheduled tree from his property. He wants a neighbour to share the cost of tree removal, but she did not make a submission to the application and does not think she should have to pay anything. Should she have to pay anything towards the cost of removing the tree. The tree is not on the boundary.

Consumer staff
13 Jul 2020
Re: Sharing the cost

Hi Carol,

From what you say, I am not sure why the owner of the tree, who had an application to remove a scheduled tree from his own property, wants the neighbour to share the costs. Unless he applied at her request as it benefits her eg gives her more sun, and if there has been a verbal agreement in the past that she would share the cost if he applied for its removal, then in the normal course of events, the neighbour would not have to pay anything.

Kind regards,
Maggie - Consumer NZ adviser

Jared K.
17 Feb 2020
Overgrown Bamboo

The bamboo on our side of the fence has overgrown into the neighbours yard over the last how many years.
Now we are building a new premises out the front of our yard & have had to cut it back to the boundary line.
We've asked the (new) neighbours if they'd like us to cut it back but they've said their tenants would like to keep it-for privacy.
Our concern is it may grow back onto our side of the property over time in which case it'd damage our new building.
To bypass this would we be legally 'ok' to notify them that we are wanting to build a new fence in which case we could chop out the last of the stray bamboo (at our expense) and prevent any possible future damages?
Jared K

Consumer staff
19 Feb 2020
Re: Overgrown Bamboo

Hi Jared,

You can give them notice under the Fencing Act that you want to build a fence and asking them to pay half of the cost. However, if the current fence is adequate, they are entitled to object on that basis.

You can’t cut the bamboo on their side of the fence without their permission (although you will be able to cut back any that reappears on your side of the fence, of course). Hope this helps.

Kind regards,
Paul - Consumer NZ staff

Mervyn C.
03 Feb 2020
Vegetation growing through fence

We are neighbouring to a school and there is a 2metre high wire fence.
The vegatation on there side grows through the fence as a lot of it it is planted close to the fence. We would rather it didnt .what are our rights

Consumer staff
03 Feb 2020
Re: Vegetation growing through fence

Hi Mervyn,

You are entitled to cut the vegetation back to the boundary, if the school refuses to do anything about it.. This is really your only remedy, unless the vegetation causes any harm, in which case the school would be liable for that. Hope this helps.

Kind regards,
Frank - Consumer NZ staff

Marilyn R.
08 Dec 2019
Trees obstructing view and light

Similar query to Dave A. We have 2 neighbours whose trees and smaller bushes are starting to obstruct our beautiful view of the harbour. We have lived in our house for over 60 years and in the past have kept the trees trimmed at our expense. One neighbour has now said we are not allowed to trim the bushes that grow on his property even though they are at the back of his garden and down a bank and he can barely see them. He trims them briefly once a year but they quickly grow back. He has an unimpeded harbour view from the other side of his house. The other neighbour has Sycamore trees that have now grown enormously and obstruct most of our city views and are beginning to affect our light. These trees are behind this neighbour's house and behind their garage so they don't see them at all. Similarly they get an unimpeded harbour view from the front of their house. We have tried to contact the neighbour for months to ask permission to cut the trees which we would pay for but this neighbour never answers their door or notes we leave asking them to contact us. I believe Sycamores are classed as a weed in NZ. What can we legally do?

Gillian B.
01 Feb 2020
This might help

https://communitylaw.org.nz/community-law-manual/chapter-26-neighbourhood-life/trees/

Dave A.
09 Nov 2019
Trees that obstruct views and light?

The neighbour in front has a few trees that appear to serve no purpose but obstruct our view of the sea (we're elevated a few meters to the East) and another neighbours sunlight (same level as the tree owner but to the South). The trees are in a narrow path on the South of the house, perhaps 1m from our other neighbours boundary and between 5-10m from ours. They're less than 2m from his house.

In times past he allowed me to trim the tops, which restored our view and a little of the other neighbour's sunlight for a while, and I could do that leaving lower foliage behind. But they've now grown to a height that even the lowest branches obstruct the view / sunlight, and the tree-owner doesn't want me to trim any more because he'll then have no foliage at all. The lowest branches are above the top of his own roofline, so all he can possibly see from his house is trunk. The trees may have been useful when they were much smaller but it's hard to see how they're useful to him now.

Can view / sunlight alone be grounds for 'lack of enjoyment'?

Consumer staff
11 Nov 2019
Re: Trees that obstruct views and light?

Hello Dave,

One of our advisers has sent you an email with advice on your query.

Kind regards,

Natalie - Consumer NZ staff

Pauline W.
18 Jun 2019
Neighbours planting a forest on several km of boundary. How many metres off the boundary fence should the first line of trees be?

I would like 30m

Consumer staff
19 Jun 2019
Re: Neighbours planting a forest on several km of boundary. How many metres off the boundary fence should the first line of trees be?

Hi P W,

If your neighbour is planting a forest, it may require a change of land use consent under the Resource Management Act. We suggest you get in touch with your local council about this.

Kind regards,

Natalie - Consumer NZ staff.

Aroha W.
08 Jun 2019
Neighbours trees fallen onto our lawn

What r the guidelines for removing and disposal of them

Consumer staff
10 Jun 2019
Re: Neighbours trees fallen onto our lawn

Hi Aroha,

If the neighbour’s trees have fallen onto your property, they are then responsible for removing them and fixing any damage caused by the fall.

Our advisers can provide further advice and support if you need it. Feel free to call them on 0800 266 786.

Kind regards,

Natalie - Consumer NZ staff.

Marie S.
16 May 2019
Council new planting

Our property backs onto a reserve being redeveloped by Auckland city council. The proposed plan is to plant 6 trees that can grow to 15-18 metres high and 4 metres spread. Basically the equivalent of 2-3 Storey double blocked unit. Trees are deciduous so will end up with leaves in the yard blocking gutters and drains. The biggest concern is that they will block sun and views. Request to council to undertake they will not have a negative impact on our property go unanswered. What rights do we and the neighbors actually have.
Everything in council plans suggest that planting should not impact sunlight/view.

Consumer staff
17 May 2019
Re: Council new planting

Hello Marie,

As this is a council-to-private land issue, not private-to-private land issue, your rights are different.

If Auckland Council haven’t been responding to your emails, you can lodge a complaint to get an answer to your question.

Their complaints process can be found here:
https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/report-problem/Pages/make-formal-complaint.aspx

If you are a Consumer member our advisers can offer more personalised advice on 0800 266 786.

Kind regards,

Natalie - Consumer NZ staff