Question: One of our lot owners has experienced damage caused by tree roots from a neighbour. Who is responsible for the cost of the remedial works to the adjoining property, the strata neighbour or the strata body?
Answer: What is within the lot owner’s boundary is the responsibility of that individual owner. However, it appears that the tree has encroached into common property and caused damage to a neighbour’s property
Your strata plan will likely indicate what the stratum of the lot is and how far the tree roots have encroached. If you are certain that that lot owner’s roots have caused damage to the neighbour, then the root lot owner is responsible. In other words, the root lot owner should pay for the remedial works and all other damage caused by his tree.
Council will have restrictions on the type of planting and whether trees can be removed, so ensure you consult Council first. Also, the development consent for the building may impose requirements for the planting of specific trees. Further, the tree may be subject to a tree preservation order. In any event, you may have rights to sever the roots at the boundary line but you would need both consents of the tree owner and approval of Council.
So, while you may certainly ask, it is unlikely the owner will want the expense and inconvenience of removing the tree and all the approvals must first be obtained.
Please note that this article is provided for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional legal advice.