01 November 2011

New legislation for neighbourhood disputes in effect today

Attorney-General, Minister for Local Government and Special Minister of State

The Honourable Paul Lucas


New legislation for neighbourhood disputes in effect today

New legislation to help resolve disputes about overhanging trees and dividing fences is in effect today.

Attorney General Paul Lucas said the Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution Act replaced the Dividing Fences Act which had been in effect since 1953.

He said the Act clarified who was responsible for building and maintaining dividing fences and who was responsible for ensuring trees and branches did not impose on someone else's property.

"Prior to these changes there was no legislation covering backyard trees," he said.

"These modern laws clearly spell out neighbours' obligations in relation to fences and trees to better reflect a 'fair go' all round.

"Whilst most people might find it easy to trim a overhanging branches for many people including the elderly or people with disabilities, this is impossible.

"From today, if someone believes a tree poses a danger or it's adversely affecting their land they can write to the owner, requesting for it to be trimmed or removed.

"They can also recover up to $300 for professional services to trim a tree under 2.5 metres if parties can't agree on a resolution.

"First and foremost, we want to see neighbours communicating with each other about these matters and trying to reach a resolution.

"These laws set the ground rules and also either party to refer the matter to the QCAT agreement can't be reached."

Mr Lucas said the new legislation also includes a clear definition of a sufficient dividing fence and how cost should be apportioned.

"The legislation provides a clear picture of when a fence needs to be replaced and what is a reasonable contribution to its installation and maintenance," he said.

Mr Lucas said it was important the legislation was in place before summer.

"We've already seen the storm season kick off in Queensland this year and we're expecting more to come," Mr Lucas said.

"Though it's not expected to be anywhere near as bad as last year, people should be taking steps now to prepare.

"That's why it's important gardens and fences are in good order to ensure dangerous objects aren't flying around in the middle of a storm and that's where this legislation can help."

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