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A tree dispute relating to obstruction of views and sunlight

Rees & Anor v Chen [2017] NSWLEC 1502

Background

On 12 September 2017, judgment was delivered in Rees & Anor v Chen [2017] NSWLEC 1502 dismissing an application brought by Rees pursuant to s 14B Part 2A of the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 (NSW) (‘Trees Act’) against the adjoining property owner, Chen. The applicant sought to have the hedges planted in the adjoining property to be limited to a certain height as it was alleged that the hedges have severely obstructed Rees’ view of the Lane Cover River.

Judgment

  • The Court found that the jurisdictional tests in s 14E(2) are not met in regards to the obstruction of sunlight because i) the obstruction of sunlight was caused by a hedge that pre-existed the applicant’s purchase of the property and ii) the sunlight obstructed was not direct sunlight.
  • The Court also found that the jurisdictional tests are not met in regards to the obstruction of views because i) the view of water was across a side boundary and relatively small portion of the overall view available; ii) the loss of views from other rooms was not severe and iii) the obstruction of views from one room pre-existed the applicant’s purchase of the property.
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Resolving Issues with Local Councils

It is not uncommon for issues to arise between local councils and the residents or businesses who make up the local government area.  We have outlined a general process of dispute resolution that can be followed if such an issue were to arise.

Dispute Resolution Steps

Step One

The first step that should be taken in trying to resolve a dispute with a Local Council is to approach Council directly.  This is because Councils are autonomous bodies with rights and powers under law.  As such, many problems are able to be resolved directly with the Local Councils.

Step Two

If the first step fails to resolve the issue, you should write to the General Manager and request that they look into your complaint.  It is a good idea to allow the General Manager a reasonable time to respond to the complaint, so that they can liaise with the relevant department.  Usually, four weeks is a good time frame, however, if the problem is long or complex you should allow more time for a response.
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