Legal responsibilities

According to the Property Law Amendment Act 1975, property owners are responsible for any nuisance or damage their trees cause to neighbours, even if the trees were planted before they bought the property.

If your neighbour's trees are causing a problem, you should talk to them. If they won't co-operate, you can refer your dispute to the District Court.

The Property Law Act 1952 (section 129C) allows a residential occupier to apply for a District Court Order for the removal or trimming of trees.

An order will only be made:

  • to prevent or reduce danger to people or property 
  • to restore an obstructed view 
  • to prevent or reduce interference with the enjoyment of residential land

The Council does not get involved in neighbourhood disputes about trees unless the tree is protected by the District Plan.

Trees and Vegetation Issues

Here are a few issues that occur with regards to trees and vegetation:

Overhanging trees (including branches and roots)

If your neighbour's trees:

  • overhang a boundary
  • appear dangerous
  • block sunlight
  • roots cause problems with drains,

the matter has to be sorted out between you and your neighbour.

Branches or roots crossing a boundary can generally be removed, provided that the work does not kill the tree or require a resource consent.

The law states that these branches should be returned to the owner of the tree.

You may still need to get a Resource Consent from Council, even if you and your neighbour agree to remove or prune a tree.

If trees overhang onto Council land, e.g. footpaths, the Council will request that you maintain them. If they are not maintained, the Council can complete any necessary work and charge the property owner.

Trees Planted Near Power and Telephone Lines

When planting your trees, make sure that they are planted well away from power and telephone lines.

If trees are planted too close to these lines, the trees can get caught up in them once grown and may cause line damaged.

These trees will be cut down or trimmed at your expense.

For more information regarding trees and power lines, please refer to The Lines Company Website

Restricted Driver View

Trees and shrubs can restrict the view of the road when a driver is entering or exiting a property or another road. As a result, the driver might not see another car or pedestrian until it is too late.

When planting trees and shrubs close to the front boundary of your property, make sure that any driver will have a good view of the road and footpath.  

Tree and bush protection

Any trees in Otorohanga with heritage value have been classified as Notable Trees. These are shown on the District Plan Zoning Maps.

Other vegetation in the District may be regulated by provision in the District Plan, please check whether vegetation you are planning to remove is regulated by this provision.

Landowners may prefer to formally protect indigenous flora on their property through a covenant (e.g. QEII Trust) registered on the Certificate of Title.

Vegetation Clearance

The Council's Operative District Plan includes rules relevant to the removal of indigenous vegetation. 

It is recommended that you refer to these rules in order to determine if a Resource Consent will be required.