Stumped on how to be a good neighbour

Stumped on how to be a good neighbour?

Have you ever thought of yourself as a tree keeper? Well most of us – those that own houses – are legally defined as tree keepers: and with that privilege, come rights and responsibilities.

Now before you hit the snooze button, this is not about legal mumbo-jumbo. This is all about people, the beauty and benefits of Mother nature, and above all living harmoniously with our neighbours.

You see, we plant a tree, oxygen gets pumped out, your property receives shade and if it’s the right sort of tree your children will enjoy climbing it, your family may enjoy its bounties, (if it’s a fruit tree) and wildlife may well make it their home…

But what happens when that same tree grows up, up and over your neighbour’s roof? Well, that’s a different story and it’s potentially no longer a happy one.

When you buy a house, it’s a crash course in many disciplines, but one area that can quickly get out of hand is neighbourly disputes when it comes to trees overhanging properties or fences. And the resulting mess it can cause to neighbourly relations really isn’t worth it.

Know this: as a property owner, you are responsible for the trees on your property. If those trees impact your neighbours, it is your responsibility – and expense – to rectify the situation. That said, sometimes in the interest of good neighbourly relations, a sharing of the cost of tree removal goes a long way.

Stumped on how to be a good neighbour

Because, let’s face it, it’s good to know you can skip next door to borrow a cup of sugar (or a cold anything when you run out). Good neighbours will also feed your pet snake, dog or fish when you go on holidays, they will notice if the lights are on when they shouldn’t be, and they may well invite you to their next gathering. And who doesn’t love simply walking home three drinks later after a fun night out.

The benefits of having good neighbours – and of being a good neighbour – far outweighs the heady rush of losing your cool over a tree, or the comparatively small cost of addressing the problem. It’s just not worth it.

If you do have a tree that potentially is causing problems and you’re not sure where to start, have a look at the Brisbane City Council website here to ensure the tree in question is not protected as well as Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), both of which are very useful resources.

So, if you have trees that overhang your neighbour’s fence or property, do the right thing: talk to your neighbour, address the problem then act to resolve it. You’ll be glad you did. It will cost money in the short-term, but the long-term benefits of having and being a good neighbour are priceless.

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