Read overhanging branches and debt disputes FINAL text version

Overhanging branches and debt disputes

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) is committed to actively resolving disputes in a way that is fair, just, accessible, quick and inexpensive.

Tree disputes and QCAT

The Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011 provides simpler options for resolving disputes between neighbours about a tree or trees on adjoining properties. From 1 November 2011, QCAT can make decisions regarding: · recovering a debt from a neighbour as a result of minor overhanging branch removal · other disputes involving a tree affecting neighbouring land including damaging property, causing injury, or interfering with use of land. If your dispute involves tree issues other than minor overhanging branches, visit www.neighbourhooddisputes.qld.gov.au for more information on steps to resolve your dispute. If you are unable to resolve your dispute, you can apply to QCAT to make a decision. For more information see the QCAT fact sheet Tree dispute resolution. Overhanging branches From 1 November 2011, neighbours will have simpler options for resolving disputes about minor overhanging branches, including providing a Notice for overhanging branches which gives neighbours 30 days to respond or rectify the problem. For more information on obtaining and using a notice visit www.neighbourhooddisputes.qld.gov.au. If the neighbour does not act upon the notice, you may rectify the branches yourself and seek up to $300 annually (regardless of how many trees are involved) from your neighbour towards the cost of cutting and removing overhanging branches. If you have undertaken this process and your neighbour has not reimbursed you for the costs, you can apply to QCAT to recover the debt of up to $300. Note: QCAT is unable to assist with providing notices or advice on their use. If you are unsure about your legal rights, seek legal advice. Avoiding and resolving dispute Resolving a dispute directly with your neighbour will be quicker and cheaper than taking legal action. Try talking to your neighbour or leaving them a note ­ they may not be aware there is an issue. If you can reach an agreement, put it in writing. Both neighbours should sign and date it and keep a copy. If you cannot reach an agreement, you can contact a Dispute Resolution Centre for free advice on mediation. You may wish to seek legal advice on your options including an application to QCAT. Applying to QCAT to recover the debt To apply to recover a debt relating to overhanging branches, complete and submit the Application for Minor Civil Dispute ­ minor debt form available from QCAT. The Application checklist ­ minor debt may assist in ensuring your application is complete.

This fact sheet provides general information and should not be considered legal advice. If you are unsure about your legal rights you should seek legal advice. Any actions taken to resolve your dispute should be determined by your individual circumstances. Version 2 ­ May 2013 ­ available from www.qcat.qld.gov.au

Avoiding tree disputes

Some tree disputes could be avoided through appropriate tree selection, care and maintenance. For more information contact the Queensland Arborist Association via www.qaa.net.au.

Legal advice

As part of an independent tribunal, QCAT registry staff are unable to provide legal advice. To obtain legal advice contact: · Caxton Legal Centre via www.caxton.org.au or 07 3214 6333 · your local community legal centre. To find a local centre, contact the Queensland Association of Independent Legal Services (QAILS) via www.qails.org.au or 07 3392 0092. For referral to a suitable private solicitor contact the Queensland Law Society via www.qls.com.au or 07 3842 5842. Please note that some information is available on the Legal Aid Queensland (LAQ) website, but LAQ does not provide legal advice on tree or fence disputes. They can provide contact details of your local community legal centre. Visit www.legalaid.qld.gov.au or call 1300 65 11 88.

Contact information

QCAT Brisbane Address: Post: Phone: Email: Website: Level 9, BOQ Centre, 259 Queen Street, Brisbane, 4000 GPO Box 1639, Brisbane Qld 4001 1300 753 228 [email protected] www.qcat.qld.gov.au

Outside of Brisbane Your local Magistrates Court (excluding Brisbane Magistrates Court) can supply and accept all QCAT application forms. To find your nearest Magistrates Court, look under "Justice and Attorney-General" in the phone book or visit www.courts.qld.gov.au. Dispute Resolution Centres 07 3239 6269 or 1800 017 288 (toll free outside of Brisbane) or www.justice.qld.gov.au Local government authorities (councils) To locate your local government authority, check you rates notice, look in the phone book or visit http://www.dlgp.qld.gov.au/local-government-directory/

Resources

Available from www.qcat.qld.gov.au: · Form 3 - Application for a minor civil dispute ­ minor debt · Application checklist ­ minor debt · QCAT fact sheet ­ Tree dispute resolution

This fact sheet provides general information and should not be considered legal advice. If you are unsure about your legal rights you should seek legal advice. Any actions taken to resolve your dispute should be determined by your individual circumstances. Version 2 ­ May 2013 ­ available from www.qcat.qld.gov.au

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