The High Court has accepted a claim by a property owner in relation to damage to their property caused by tree roots coming across the boundary from their neighbour’s property as well as leaves and branches falling from overhanging tree branches.

The Court has ordered over $10,000 to be paid for repairs to guttering caused by leaves from the overhanging branches plus other damages in relation to the costs the home owner spent on cutting back the encroaching branches and to put a net over their swimming pool.

The High Court also awarded $10,000 general damages for the disruption and inconvenience caused to the neighbour by the trees.

The neighbour, who owned the trees, was also ordered to pay part of the repair costs for the driveway damaged by the tree roots and for removal of the tree roots and installation of a root barrier.

The High Court also granted an injunction requiring the tree owner to cut back any overhanging branches and to keep those cut back to the boundary.  They are to remove any debris that falls onto their neighbour’s property during the cutting back process.

The High Court refused to award any damages for leaves that blow over from trees or branches that do not overhang, because the law does not recognise any liability on tree owners except in relation to overhanging branches or tree roots that come across the boundary.  Normal fall of leaves from a tree that blow onto a neighbour’s property do not give rise to any legal right to damages.

The Court awarded $23,000 costs in addition to the damages.

Alan Knowsley