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Wollongong City Council

Issues with Neighbours' Trees

If a tree on your neighbour’s land is causing issues, the process for dealing with it will be a little different to managing trees on your own property.

What you'll be able to do may depend on whether your neighbour agrees to cooperate.

The first step is to talk to your neighbour.

If your neighbour doesn't own the property, you'll have to talk with the owner, if you know who that is. In some cases, this may be a strata manager, company, trustee, or similar.

  • If your neighbour (owner) is happy to cooperate, they can apply to prune or remove the tree.
  • If you can’t talk to the neighbour, or they don’t agree to your request, you can apply to prune parts of the tree that hang over your side of the boundary. Council will inspect the tree from your property and consider what pruning can be done to reduce the issues caused by your neighbour’s tree.

Note that you can't apply to remove a tree on someone else's property without their agreement.

You might not need a Tree Permit from Council if your situation meets one of the conditions below.

  • The tree you want to prune or remove is on the list of exempt trees.
  • The pruning or removal is part of a proposed development, like building or extending a house, garage, swimming pool, subdivision etc. In these cases, you should include the pruning or removal of the tree/s as part of your Development Application.
  • Keeping the tree/s was included as a condition in a previous Development Consent. In this case, you would need to apply to Modify or Amend the DA.
  • The tree removal is part of a Complying Development and meets the rules for trees under Complying Development.
  • The tree is in a 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement area for bush fire protection. Strict rules apply - see the NSW RFS website for details.

If your case doesn't meet any of the above conditions, follow the steps below to apply for a Tree Permit.

Please note, if your neighbour's property is zoned RU1, RU2, and RU4, you or your neighbour will need to get approval from Local Land Services, rather than Council.

If you're unsure, please call us on (02) 4227 7111 for advice. Penalties can apply if you prune or remove trees without getting the correct approvals.

Including the right information with your Tree Permit application can help to avoid delays in this process.

Information you need to attach with your application includes:

  • Information to help us easily identify the tree/s your request applies to, such as:
    • an aerial map of the property clearly showing the tree/s location. This could be a satellite image, hand-drawn map, diagram or plan.
    • photos of the tree/s .
  • A description of the number and type of trees (if known) included in the application.
  • The reason/s you want to prune or remove the tree/s.
  • Relevant reports (if available) from qualified experts, for example arborist, structural engineer, plumber, geotechnical expert, etc.
  • Information about the property that will help us inspect the trees. This includes things like:
    • Whether there are any dogs or pets on the property.
    • If the trees can be accessed. For example, if there are locked gates that would need to be opened for us to inspect the tree.
  • Your correct daytime phone number so we can reach you if we need more information, or to arrange access to inspect the tree/s.

If you are not the owner of the property where the tree is located, you must also include proof of the owner's permission, if you have their cooperation. You can do this by attaching a statutory declaration PDF, 22.71 KB signed by the owner.

There are two ways you can apply for a Tree Permit.

Apply online

Before you can apply, you need to log in or register in our Online Services system.

Once you are logged in, select Lodge an Application, then Permits & Licences and Tree Permit.

Apply with a PDF form

If you’d prefer to use a hard copy, download the form below:

Apply for a Tree Permit PDF, 234.21 KB

You can return PDF application forms to us:

  • By post with a cheque or money order payable to Wollongong City Council. Our mailing address is shown within the How to Pay Section on the form.
  • In person at our Customer Service Centre, 41 Burelli Street, Wollongong, between 9am and 5pm on working weekdays.

You need to pay the relevant fee when you apply before your application can be processed.

It is up to you and your neighbour to work out for yourselves who will pay the fee. Information about arrangements between neighbours can be found in the 'Agreements and disagreements between neighbours' section on this page.

Our current fees and charges for tree permit applications are shown below.

Showing 1 - 5 of 5 items
Parent HierachyArea Fee NameFee Name GSTGST Current Fee (incl. GST)Current Fee (incl. GST)
Parent HierachyEnvironmental Services Fee NameTree Management Permit Application GSTN Current Fee$80.50
Parent HierachyEnvironmental Services Fee NameTree Management Permit Review Application GSTN Current Fee$41.00
Parent HierachyEnvironmental Services Fee NameTree Management Permit Breaches - per offence - for individuals GSTN Current Fee$3,000.00
Parent HierachyEnvironmental Services Fee NameTree Management Permit Breaches - per offence - for corporations GSTN Current Fee$6,000.00
Parent HierachyEnvironmental Services Fee NameTree Management Permit Pensioner Rate (50% of application fee subject to receiving pensioner rebate from Council) GSTN Current Fee$41.00

After you lodge a tree application, we will inspect the trees listed.

Please tag the tree/s as soon as you lodge your application so we can easily identify them.

Use a brightly coloured tape, ribbon, string, or a similar non-permanent material that won't hurt the tree.

For everyone's health and safety, we are limiting face-to-face contact when we inspect your tree/s.

We don't generally make appointments to inspect trees, so please include all removal or pruning reasons within your application. If you've told us that there's an aggressive dog on the property, or access issues like locked gates, we will call you to arrange a suitable time for inspection. Please make sure you put your correct daytime phone number on the application to help with this process and avoid delays.

COVID-19 safety

We are following COVID-safe practices when inspecting trees. This includes minimising contact with customers, social distancing and wearing face masks when appropriate.

After we assess your application, you will be sent a permit. This will include any conditions you need to follow when pruning or removing the tree/s.

In some cases we may not approve the full amount of pruning requested. When we assess your application, we will consider how much pruning is needed to reduce any issues caused by your neighbour’s tree. You’ll also have to make sure that any pruning of tree roots doesn’t make the tree unstable.

A qualified arborist will need to do all the approved pruning work.

Make sure you follow all conditions carefully, and only prune or remove trees included in the permit. Penalties can apply for pruning or removing trees without approval.

Applying for a review

If you're not happy with the decision about your Tree Permit, you can ask for a review using the form below. You will need to include additional information to support your request for a review.

Application for Review of Tree Permit Determination PDF, 174.98 KB

If you have a question about Tree Permits or the application process, please visit our Tree Permit FAQs page or call us on (02) 4227 7111.

More information about neighbours' trees

It’s up to neighbours to work out between themselves who will apply and pay for a tree permit. Council doesn’t deal with disputes about trees between neighbours.

If you have a dispute with your neighbour about a tree, you can seek help through the Community Justice Centre or private legal action. You may also need to get legal advice if a neighbour’s tree has caused damage to you or your property.

If the matter can’t be resolved through mediation, you could consider lodging an application with the Land and Environment Court under the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006.

We've made a guide in Easy English to explain how Tree Permits work. You can download a copy below.

Tree Permits - Easy English Guide  PDF, 3438.35 KB

If a tree is growing on a boundary where a fence is to be built, think about keeping it and building the fence either side of the tree.

If it’s not practical to keep the tree, you’ll need to follow the normal rules for tree removal.  Note that if the tree is on more than one property, you’ll need to get your neighbour’s written approval to apply for a tree permit.

If it's not clear whose property a tree is on, you and/or your neighbour may need to have the property surveyed to confirm who owns the tree. This must be done before you apply for a tree permit.