Neighbours tree roots blocking our sewer | Common Property | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered




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Neighbours tree roots blocking our sewer
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danih
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28/04/2018 - 11:26 pm
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Hello again!

The TWO sewer lines from our building to the main sewer trunk is becoming more and more compromised by the roots from a large fig tree on the neighbouring property. We have been advised by the plumber that the clay pipes need to be replaced with PVC to eliminate the problem. This is a costly job as the parking area will have to be carved up to do it.

My question is… who is financially responsible for this repair?

The tree is very large and quite old so it could have been there when the blocks were built in the 1960s. We have been advised to approach council about the problem. Does the council have responsibility/ liability for big trees inside a property boundary? Does the neighbouring OC have any liability?

I suspect it would be prudent for us to approach the neighbouring OC directly (that’s my current plan) That way we can approach council with a united front (fingers crossed) if appropriate. 

Anyone got an opinion??

Thx

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Lady Penelope
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29/04/2018 - 10:14 am
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danih – The neighbouring property is definitely responsible for the damage caused by the roots of their tree.

Are there any other large trees that are in the vicinity that could also be adding to your problem? Your neighbour will look to avoid the responsibility of the root damage as much as possible and will likely blame other trees – so be prepared.

To fully prepare for any future action you will need to obtain some more information ……

1. Ask the plumber to provide a written report about the damage caused to your pipes from the neighbouring tree.

2. Take photos of the tree.

3. Obtain a screen shot copy of a Google map satellite image of your property and its immediate surrounds which show the fig tree.

4. Obtain a quote (preferably two quotes) for the costs of all of the works involved e.g. trenching, replacement of the pipe, back filling and replacing the car park surface.

The steps to be taken after you have obtained those pieces of information are outlined in the link below: 

https://www.matthewsfolbigg.com.au/news/local-government/trees-disputes-neighbours-nsw/

And in The Trees Act is linked here: 

https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/inforce/def76566-c66f-4d9c-cc90-bf028ed0ca59/2006-126.pdf

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danih
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29/04/2018 - 11:12 am
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Lady P… thank you so much!! You are a legend!!

I can and will do all of that. 

I’ve just been out to photograph the tree and have discovered it seems to straddle two seperate properties – it’s at the apex of 2 blocks that come to an apex. 

I’ll read through the links you posted. Looks like it could get complicated!!

xxx

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BONNIE L
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29/04/2018 - 7:42 pm
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Not sure if have understood this correctly, and know also that some councils are known to have issued large fines for lopping any so called protected tree species without their knowledge.

Best luck!

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Lady Penelope
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29/04/2018 - 11:19 pm
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BONNIE L – You may get approval to remove a tree that is protected either by a TPO or LEP when there are problems with the roots blocking the plumbing or other pipes on the property or neighbouring properties.

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danih
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29/04/2018 - 11:36 pm
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Hi Bonnie… We’re hoping to avoid having to cut the tree down if we can. It provides excellent privacy and good shade in the summer. Unfortunately, given I’ve discovered it’s actually on two properties I can see this being quite a complicated!! 

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woodg62
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30/04/2018 - 12:05 pm
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I can’t help you work out who should pay, but I can recommend a product called RootX. This kills the roots in the sewer line (and rather inexpensive). It probably won’t be a long term solution but may keep your sewer running until you can sort out who is responsible for repairs/replacement. I have a unit in an older complex with clay pipes. The RootX fixes most sewer issues we have.

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Anthony Cordato
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02/05/2018 - 10:29 am
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Recently, my sewer line was backing up because the roots of the Rhus tree on on the footpath outside my house had penetrated the sewer pipe. Council wanted the tree to remain.

So the solution we adopted was to have a specialist drainer cut away the roots and install a plastic pipe within the old clay pipes. It was not cheap – $11,000, but it solved the problem. It was cheaper than removing the old pipes and installing new ones. The sewer no longer backs up and the tree continues to flourish.

My suggestion is to obtain a quotation, and ask the OC next door to go halves.

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chesswood
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15/05/2018 - 9:07 am
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Lady Penelope is very definitive in #2 above:

The neighbouring property is definitely responsible for the damage caused by the roots of their tree.

I don’t understand. Trees have been sending roots out for millions of years. Humans have been using clay pipes with shonky cement joints for a couple of hundred years. Nowadays we know that pores or small cracks in the cement pass moisture, attracting nearby roots which penetrate the cracks, enlarge the cracks, and then grow inside the pipe.  So now we use PVC pipes joined with water-repellant adhesive which don’t leak at all. Roots simply don’t know the PVC pipe has water in it and go somewhere else.

So whose fault is the blockage?

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JimmyT
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15/05/2018 - 12:33 pm
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chesswood said
So whose fault is the blockage?  

There’s a difference between fault and responsibility.  You are responsible for everything you own. 

It might not be your fault if your parked car’s brakes fail and it rolls into the back of someones Porsche, but you’ll find you are responsible when it comes to an insurance claim. 

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