Ask Bohmer: Tree Vandalism, Neighbour Disputes & The Council

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Q: A neighbouring tree is a nuisance and is dropping leaves and looks like it could even fall onto our property – but what are the repercussions if someone was to ‘kill’ it?

A: We get asked about this issue a lot and as much as it’s frustrating, it falls under the category of criminal damage so the best you can do is negotiate/mediate and perservere with your neighbor (if on private property) about their duty of care – or worst case scenario, meet them in the courts.

I have seen a number of trees in the Illawarra (and moreso in the northern suburbs) where it is clear that someone has vandalized (eg poisoned or destroyed the roots or trunk of) a tree; you may have seen the signs placed by council around the area who are also aware of the problem in public spaces – mostly where people want to remove a tree to take advantage of our South Coast views – and they take it very seriously.

IMAGE: Tree vandalism at Coledale

It’s important to note that a previously healthy tree that ‘suddenly’ has health issues, or, for example large palms that you can see someone has drilled holes into the trunk to kill it, is also a potential risk to the public.

IMAGE: Tree vandalism (hole drilled in tree with poison seeping out)

I can understand that some people want to reduce any risk of trees falling onto their property and therefore my suggestion would be negotiations with your neighbor, however others who clearly want to kill trees in order for a better view – or if you are concerned yourself – may want to check the below links out:



IMAGE: Tree vandalism at Sandon Pt, Bulli


IMAGE: Tree vandalism at Nicholson Park, Woonona


Bohmer works with Wollongong and neighbouring (including Shellharbour, Kiama and other) Councils, so if you have any Qs about your rights or responsibilities – or need general guidance on dealing with neighbor disputes over trees, feel free to contact him at

*Images courtesy of Illawarra Mercury