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Having a Dispute with Your Neighbour? Ardent Lawyers Can Help

Whether a dispute with your neighbour is about overgrown trees, damage to fences, pollution or noise, your first step in attempting to resolve the dispute is to talk to your neighbour calmly and voice your concerns.

Getting angry and upset with your neighbour promotes ineffective communication which could result in your neighbour becoming defensive; making the problem even worse.

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Each type of dispute is governed by particular legislation in force which assists neighbours to know their rights and what steps to take to resolve the dispute. For example: 

  • Overgrown trees - the Trees (Disputes between Neighbours) Act 2006 (NSW) ("the Trees Act") is the law which sets out the rights of each party when there is an issue regarding trees on private property or Crown land. The Trees Act does not apply to trees on land owned or managed by your local Council. 

    If overgrown trees are obstructing your views or sunlight, is likely to cause damage to your property or even injury, you can apply to the Land & Environment Court for the trees be trimmed or removed. Your individual circumstances will have to be considered along with this legislation, however if you are successful in obtaining an order from the Court, and the order is not complied with, penalties will apply to your neighbour for failing to comply with the order. It is recommended that you first consult with your neighbour to see if you can agree to resolve the dispute before taking steps to make an application with the Court for this type of order.

    More information and tips about tree disputes can be found at the Land and Environment Court website.
     
  • Damage or disputes about dividing fences - the Dividing Fences Act 1991 (NSW) is the law relating to dividing fences and sets out the responsibilities of neighbours concerning shared fences. Generally, adjoining owners contribute equally to the construction and repair of standard fences unless one of the owners is responsible for the damage to the fence. If one owner wishes to construct a fence which is greater in cost than that of constructing a standard fence than that owner is required to pay for the cost above and beyond the cost of constructing a standard fence. 

    If an owner has damaged a dividing fence, that owner is required to repair the fence to the standard of fence that was previously in place. If you have a dispute with your neighbour regarding a dividing fence, you should talk to your neighbour to see if you can come to an agreement. If an agreement can not be reached, you can serve a Fencing Notice and apply to the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal ("NCAT") or your Local Court for a fencing order. 

    More information and trips about fencing disputes can be found at the Law Access NSW website.
     
  • Noise complaints - the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW) ("the POEO Act") defines 'noise' and 'offensive noise' and the steps that can be taken to resolve a noise dispute. Noises can come from a range of sources, including but not limited to barking dogs, music, yelling or arguments, motor vehicles, power tools, pool pumps or lawn mowers. If you are unable to resolve a noise dispute by talking to your neighbour, you can contact your local council or police to make a complaint so they can consider issuing a prevention notice or noise abatement direction. Your local council or police can issue on the spot fines and even seize the equipment used to make the noise. If these actions do not resolve the dispute, you can apply for a noise abatement order from your Local Court. Fines apply to those who contravene a noise abatement order.

    More information and tips about noise disputes can be found at the EPA NSW website. 

If you have a dispute with your neighbour about any of the above topics, we encourage you to attempt to try to resolve the dispute by talking to your neighbour. If your dispute cannot be resolved, contact our law firm to discuss a range of steps that can be applied to your particular circumstances.

If you have any questions about a particular dispute with your neighbour, contact Ardent Lawyers on (02) 4444 6808 or contact@ardentlawyers.com.au

If you would prefer a home visit, we are more than happy to come to you! Servicing the Illawarra & Shoalhaven districts.