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Vegetation management

City of Gold Coast protects trees and vegetation on private land to preserve our city's character, amenity, biodiversity, historical and ecological values.

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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
BRISBANE QLD 4001
Telephone: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)
www.neighbourhooddisputes.qld.gov.au

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

Dispute Resolution Centre (Mediation Service)
363 George Street
BRISBANE QLD 4001
Telephone: 1800 017 288
www.justice.qld.gov.au

Gold Coast Community Legal Centre Advice Bureau Inc.
34 Railway Street
SOUTHPORT QLD 4215
Telephone: 07 5532 9611
www.advicebureau.org.au

Robina Community Legal Centre
Robina Community Centre
196 Town Centre Drive
ROBINA QLD 4226
Telephone: 0423 466 286
www.rclc.net.au

Legal Aid Office
First Floor, 100 Scarborough Street
SOUTHPORT QLD 4215
Telephone: 1300 651 188
www.legalaid.qld.gov.au

Related information

Jump to key information
  • Can I throw the branches back into their property?

    Overhanging branches - you can lop off overhanging branches of a neighbour's tree if the branches are causing a nuisance. You should not trespass on the neighbour's land to do this. However, any branches you lop off belong to them and they cannot refuse to take the branches back if you are unable or willing to dispose of them.

  • I want to put up a boundary fence but a tree is in the way.

    If a tree is in the way of a boundary fence, there are some checks that will need to be conducted in regards to how close the vegetation is to the property boundary fence before any vegetation can be removed.

    Please visit the Common civil disputes involving trees and vegetation page for further information.

  • The leaves from the neighbour's tree drop in my pool – surely that means they have to remove the tree?

    No. In many cases pools are built well after trees have become established. If the trees are not causing any damage and are just dropping leaves then City of Gold Coast would not look favourably at an application for removal.

    Please visit the Civil disputes involving vegetation and trees page for advice about resolving a neighbourhood dispute involving vegetation and trees.

  • What do I do to resolve a dispute about a tree with my neighbour?

    Please visit the Civil disputes involving vegetation and trees page for advise about resolving a neighbourhood dispute involving vegetation and trees.

  • Well, what do I do now?

    It is recommended that you contact one of the following agencies to investigate or assist you in resolving the problem:

    • Legal Aid office (QLD) -1300 65 1188
    • Gold Coast Community Legal Centre & Advice Bureau Inc. - 07 5532 9611
    • Dispute Resolution Centre - 1800 017 288

    In addition, you can trim whatever is overhanging your property (only to the boundary line).

    In neighbourhood disputes, first try to reach an amicable agreement directly or through an objective mediator such as the Dispute Resolution Centre or the Gold Coast Community Legal Centre & Advice Bureau Inc. Legal action tends to damage neighbour relations. Generally, liaising with your neighbour is better than using a third party.

    Please visit the Civil disputes involving vegetation and trees page for advice about resolving a neighbourhood dispute involving vegetation and trees.

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