QCAT Rules in Longstanding Albion Tree Dispute

A long-standing disagreement between neighbours in Albion has been resolved by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT). The dispute, which lasted eight years, centred around several eucalyptus trees growing on one property that were reportedly impacting the adjacent residence.

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Last month, QCAT issued a 13-page decision rejecting an application by the owners of a home on Marne Road. The couple had sought to compel their neighbour from Stoneleigh Street to trim or remove branches from nine eucalyptus trees to a height of 3.5 metres.

The tribunal heard that the Marne Road residents have lived at their property since at least 1995, while Stoneleigh Street resident has occupied his home since 2003. The properties share a common boundary at the rear of the Marne Road yard.

Photo credit: Google Street View

In their submission, the Marne Road owners claimed there were up to 20 eucalyptus trees as tall as 15 metres on their neighbour’s property. However, the neighbour disputed this assertion, stating the trees were not as numerous or as tall as alleged.

The decision noted that the Marne Road property had been renovated and expanded at the rear in 2013/2014, with an upper deck added in 2020. The owners argued that the trees were obstructing their view, which they claimed to have enjoyed before the trees were planted.

The Stoneleigh Street resident, in his response to the tribunal, highlighted a previous compromise. He explained that in 2016, he had agreed to remove a very tall gum tree as an act of goodwill. He indicated that this decision was made when his neighbour had allegedly threatened to enter his property and cut all of his trees to a height of 2.5 metres. 

Photo credit: Google Street View

The resident went on to clarify that the tree in question was removed for safety reasons, and he asserted that no other large eucalyptus trees prone to dropping branches remained on his property.

On the other hand, the applicants asserted that they had attempted to resolve the dispute amicably since April 2016 through various communications and offers to maintain the trees at their own expense. However, they reported that these efforts were met with constant arguments and refusals to acknowledge responsibility.

Before submitting an application to QCAT for resolving a tree dispute, parties are required to attempt informal resolution; however, if issues remain unresolved, QCAT can help settle neighbourhood tree disputes by making legally enforceable decisions, and may appoint a tree assessor to conduct an on-site evaluation with both neighbours.

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Despite the lengthy history of the dispute, the tribunal ultimately ruled against the Marne Road residents’ application to force the trimming of their neighbour’s trees.

Published 10-July-2024