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Homeowner enraged by their neighbor's damage to their property while trespassing: 'Unfortunately … [they] are irreplaceable'

"I have gone to the police."

Neighbor took down a beloved mature tree without permission

Photo Credit: iStock

An Australian Reddit user posted to r/AusLegal in July claiming that their neighbor had destroyed a tree in the original poster's yard.

When a mature tree gets chopped down, planting a new sapling just isn't enough to replace it, as one selfish homeowner in New Jersey recently found out. Depending on the location, the act may come with a fine, and the perpetrator might even be on the hook for transporting a whole, living tree of the same size to the site and having it planted — a difficult and expensive process.

This Redditor made their post to find out what their options were. 

"I got home yesterday to find my neighbor had chopped down 2/3 of a 17-year-old tree on my property," they explained. "Apparently they wanted to see more of the view, so they thought it would be fair to come onto my property and chop off a majority of the tree."

As the Redditor noted, Australian law would allow the neighbor to cut off any branches that reached over the property line — but that wasn't the case here. 

"The tree wasn't overhanging the fence," they said. "Coming onto the property and cutting it down just seems so wrong."

Destroying a tree like this had more far-reaching effects than the original poster's neighbor may have realized. Not only is the tree itself expensive to replace, but removing it damages the value of the whole property.

Trees are also vital for releasing oxygen into the air, filtering out pollution, and drawing water from deep underground to improve the surrounding environment. It will take another 17 years for a new tree to grow to the size and root depth the first one had.

Despite the trespassing and destruction of valuable property, the original poster said the police were no help. 

"I have gone to the police, and they said they cannot do anything and wiped their hands of it."

The Redditor also claimed to have contacted the property manager — since the neighboring home was a rental — but said they hadn't heard back.

"Just wondering what I can do in this situation," the Redditor concluded. "It's going to cost thousands to replace the tree."

"Speak to the council!" suggested one commenter. "This happened to my parents, and they ended up taking the neighbors to court and were awarded money to replace the trees. Unfortunately, established trees are irreplaceable."

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