Generally, if branches or roots from a neighbour’s tree come into your property you are allowed to prune them back to the fence line. As a matter of courtesy you should talk to your neighbour first, to avoid any misunderstandings.
The owner of the tree still legally owns the cuttings. However, they might not want them back. Ask first, and if you do return them don’t just throw the cuttings back over the fence- if you damage their property doing so you may have to pay them compensation. Also, make sure that you take care not to damage the tree while you are cutting.
Leaves, Fruit & Seeds
The courts won’t help you if leaves, fruit or seeds fall off a neighbour’s tree into your yard. However, you may be able to get compensation if they cause damage to your property.
Some types of trees are protected, and you can be fined if you prune them without approval. Contact your local Council to check before you do anything.
The person who does the pruning pays the costs. You cannot charge this back to the owner of the tree.
If your pruning causes damage to the tree you may have to compensate the owner.
However, if the tree has caused damage to your property, or caused injury to anyone you may be able to apply to the courts for compensation. You should seek legal advice.
Disclaimer: This information is a general guide to the law. It should not be relied on as legal advice. If you have a specific legal problem you should consult a lawyer.
It applies to people who live in, or are affected by, the law as it applies in NSW, Australia. The information contained in this publication is current at 1 January 2014.