Bird of paradise problems

Trevor asks:
(updated on Thursday, May 24th 2012)

The house next door to us is a rental property with a bunch of giant bird of paradise plants (strelitzia) growing near the fence, three of which concern us. Two are about three metres high and are pushing the fence over. The third is over five metres and growing with a lean over our deck. If it was to fall then it would take out fences, decking, furniture, an outdoor fire etc. The other two would take out the fence, deck and swing. We have two children (under three-years old) who use the deck as a play area (as it is fully fenced). Safety is our main issue. The old tenant bought this up a few times with the property manager and owner but had no joy. Neither have we.

Our Experts Answer:

This type of issue is often difficult to resolve when you have an absentee or remote owner. The usual starting point would be to go and see the neighbors/owners and discuss the issue. But it seems like you have done that and cannot reach them directly. In terms of the law, you are able to remove vegetation that is on your side of the boundary which may have its origins on the neighboring side. This may reduce some of the impact. In the bigger picture (in an attempt to get decisive action as this is a civil issue between property owners) it may pay to get your lawyer to draft a polite yet firm letter. Send it to the property manager and owner seeking the plants removal or a reduction in foliage to reduce the impact of the plants on the fence and your safety.

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