By Don Battams, Partner, Tracey Rundle, Partner and
Giuseppe Lanza-Volpe, Solicitor
The Queensland Government has introduced the Neighbourhood
Disputes Resolution Bill 2010, with the aim of simplifying the way
that neighbours handle and resolve disputes over trees and fences.
The Bill has been released for public consultation.
The Bill, if enacted, will repeal the Dividing Fences Act
1953, which has been the statutory authority on dividing
fences for almost 60 years. The Bill will not only update and
modernise the rules about constructing and repairing dividing
fences, and each neighbour's responsibilities, but will
also outline who will be responsible for the proper care and
maintenance of trees.
Key changes proposed in the Bill include:
Clearer definitions of "sufficient dividing fence"
and the type of tree disputes covered by the proposed new
A framework for resolving disputes between neighbours over
trees and fences, including the use of formal notices for
contributing to and/or maintaining a dividing fence, and carrying
out work to a tree (ie trimming or removing a tree);
Clarification of the responsibilities of a "tree
keeper" (usually the tree's owner) to ensure the tree
does not cause injury or damage to people or to a
The use of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal
(QCAT) to adjudicate disputes over dividing fences
Clarification that the ownership of a dividing fence on a
common boundary is shared equally between neighbours; and
A clear distinction between a retaining wall and a fence.
If you are selling or buying property (whether or not it is a
residential transaction) it will be important to note the
If you are a seller, then information regarding any application
to or order made by QCAT about trees must be provided to potential
buyers. If this is not done, the buyer may terminate the contract
at any time before settlement. The deposit will need to be refunded
to the buyer within 14 days of the termination and the seller (and
any person acting for the seller who prepared the contract) will be
liable for the buyer's reasonable expenses, including legal
fees in relation to the contract. QCAT is required to maintain an
electronic register of all orders made regarding trees, which is to
be publicly available.
If QCAT has made an order for carrying out work to a tree and
the seller has provided a copy of that order to the buyer, then if
the seller has not carried out the work required under the order,
the buyer will become bound by the order from the settlement date
and will be required to comply with the terms of the order.
We will be monitoring the progress of the Bill and will keep you
updated as developments occur. The Bill is available at
www.justice.qld.gov.au. If you would like to have your say about
the proposed new laws, you can provide feedback until 9 July 2010
by email to NeighbourhoodDisputesResolution@justice.qld.gov.au or
by mail to:
Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution Bill Consultation
Department of Justice and Attorney-General
GPO Box 149
Brisbane Qld 4001
For more information, please contact HopgoodGanim's
Commercial Property team.
The Council announced planning policies to encourage more inner suburban retirement village and aged care development.
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