Is your neighbour's property encroaching onto your land?
Whilst trees and plants more often than not beautify a neighbourhood, it is common for tree roots, branches and even structures to encroach onto the property of neighbours. Sometimes this can cause damage to property, such as when tree roots destroy the pavement of someone's yard, their water and sewerage pipes or even their house. At other times it can simply be a nuisance when a neighbour's tree branches are overhanging the fence and littering backyards, obstructing views or reducing light.
With regard to structures, and often those which are the result of extensions or 'improvements' made to a neighbouring property, similar problems of encroachment can occur. A neighbour's structure may be built upon or overhang your land in a way that may inhibit or restrict in some manner your use or enjoyment of your property.
What action should I take with regard to encroachments?
If a person has a complaint with regard the manner in which a tree, plant or man-made structure obstructs their views or inhibits sunlight from shining upon their property, there is usually no legal solution to the problem if the structure is not crossing your boundary. In such circumstances, the most likely avenue of redress would be to discuss the matter with your neighbour.
The manner in which you should deal with an encroachment depends upon the circumstances. In some circumstances a person may take the situation into his or her own hands and remove the segment of the offending item that crosses their boundary of the person's property. However, extreme caution should always be used when dealing with encroachments from a neighbour's property.
You should always consult your neighbour before taking any action regarding an encroachment regardless of whether you have a legal right to take that course of action or not. It must be remembered that you may live side by side with a neighbour for the remainder of your life, and care ought to be taken to ensure that relations are not irrevocably strained. You may be liable for any damage caused to your neighbour's property.
Should initial approaches to your neighbour prove fruitless, more formal action may be taken with regard to certain encroachments. This includes council assistance and/or a court of law.
As a means of assisting you to deal with encroachments onto your land, the following gives you information concerning your rights and suggestions on how to format letters to be sent to your neighbour and council if the need arises.
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