Neighbourhood disputes can take shape in many forms – whether it’s a disagreement over trees, fences, noise from animals, machinery or cars, there can be a lot at stake because it can be extremely damaging if an agreement cannot be reached between feuding neighbours. Frankly, no one wishes to feel uncomfortable in their own home.
Under the Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution Act 2011, trees must be properly cared for and safely maintained. This Act contains practical procedures for resolving disputes, trimming trees, and obtaining orders about trees.
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) is empowered to hear disputes about trees that cannot be resolved by the neighbours themselves, including claims of up to $25,000.
QCAT has wide discretionary powers to make orders about one or more trees, which can include orders for cutting/removing trees, branches or other parts of it, or netting the tree.
If you have concerns about a tree that is on your land or the land of a neighbour or adjoining property owner, or you have received a complaint about a tree on your land from an adjoining property owner and wish to obtain information about your rights and obligations, please call us to book a consultation and speak with an experienced property law solicitor.
One of the most common causes of disagreement between neighbours is over dividing fences. Dividing fences are also regulated by the Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution Act 2011 which provides strict procedures that must be followed by adjoining lot owners.
A ‘sufficient dividing fence’ is required between 2 parcels of land where an adjoining owner requests a dividing fence. Generally, adjoining owners are equally responsible for the cost of installing and maintaining a ‘sufficient dividing fence.’
A dividing fence will generally be ‘sufficient’ if it is between 50cm and 1.8 metres in height and consists substantially material of a type listed in the Act (which includes typical materials such as wood and bricks).
The Act widens the definition of ‘fence’ to include not only a typical fence structure, but to also include other barriers, for example, hedges (or other vegetative barriers) and watercourses.
It does not include retaining walls or a wall that is part of a building. Nor does it apply to a fence that is part of a pool safety barrier (this is governed by Queensland’s pool safety laws).
A dividing fence dispute can arise if neighbours disagree about fence construction or maintenance. For example, if you or your neighbour, prior to the fence being constructed or repaired:
- refuses to contribute to the cost of building a new fence, maintaining or repairing the existing fence or, if the fence is completely dilapidated, the cost of removing the old fence to install a new fence
- challenges the cost of building or repairing the fence
- disputes the type of fence to be built or repairs to be done
- disputes the alignment of the fence
- demolishes the fence without permission, or
- damages the dividing fence with attachments such as carports, washing lines and shade sails
If you wish to build a new dividing fence or repair or replace an existing dividing fence and wish to seek a contribution from your adjoining property owner, or you have received a notice to contribute from an adjoining property owner and wish to obtain information about your rights and obligations, please call us to book a consultation and speak with an experienced property law solicitor.
Noise pollution and Nuisance
Another common source of disputes between neighbours or adjoining property owners is encompassed in the law of private nuisance.
This occurs where a person unreasonably interferes with the rights of a land owner or occupier to use or enjoy their land. Private nuisance can include an unreasonable interference by water runoff from an adjoining property which causes erosion or damage, fire or smoke pollution, unpleasant odours or other types of air pollution and most commonly, noise pollution from barking dogs, loud music, machinery or vehicles.
We have extensive experience in dealing with tree disputes, dividing fences claims and nuisance complaints between adjoining property owners. We can provide advice as to rights and obligations in circumstances where you wish to exercise your rights against an adjoining land owner or if an adjoining land owner has started to exercise rights against you.
We have the ability to act for either party in a dispute and the experience required to protect your interests in either situation. Additionally, we are able to independently mediate disputes where adjoining property owners simply want to sit down at a table and have a frank discussion about resolving issues in dispute.
Our team of experienced property dispute litigation lawyers and accredited mediators can assist you to pursue or defend claims should they arise.