Disputes between neighbours concerning trees causing damage or blocking ocean views are all too common. But now neighbours have something else to fight about: hedges!
The Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Amendment Act 2010 (NSW), which came into effect in August 2010, has amended the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 (NSW), so that the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales now has the jurisdiction to hear disputes not only about trees, but hedges too.
A new Part 2A has been inserted into the Act, which enables neighbour disputes about high hedges to be heard by the Court. High hedges are defined by the Act as groups of two or more trees that are planted to form a hedge, and which rise to a height of at least 2.5 metres. The new Part enables neighbours to apply to the Court for relief where these high hedges severely obstruct sunlight to a window of their dwelling, or a view from such dwelling.
The Court is empowered to make any orders it sees fit to remedy, restrain or prevent such an obstruction of sunlight or views caused by the hedge, but cannot make an order for financial compensation.
As with any dispute between neighbours, it is always best to resolve the problem without resorting to court action. It is best to discuss the problem with your neighbour first, or seek to have the dispute mediated. These options will save you time and expense, and may well result in a better outcome for everyone involved. Depending on the individual situation, your solicitor will certainly be able to advise you on the best course of action to take.