​Neighbourhood disputes

My client is having a dispute with their neighbour. What can they do?

The quickest and cheapest way to try to fix a problem is to talk with your neighbour. If you can agree, put it in writing and both sign it.

You can contact Community Justice Centres for help with free mediation. An independent person called a mediator will help you and your neighbour discuss and resolve the dispute.

If you can’t agree about how to resolve the dispute you can find out what to do below:

  • Disputes about fences
  • Disputes about boundaries
  • Disputes about retaining walls
  • Disputes about trees
    • If you and your neighbour can’t agree about what should happen to a tree you can apply to the Land and Environment Court.
    • The Court can order a person to cut a tree back, remove it and pay compensation. Tree orders are often made if there is a risk to property, injury to people, if it badly blocks a view or sunlight. Get legal advice before you apply for a tree order in the Land and Environment Court.

  • Environmental disputes — including smell.
    If you and your neighbour can’t agree about a problem about smells or environmental issues you can complain to:
  • Development disputes
    If you have a development dispute with a neighbour you can complain to the local council or get legal advice from a private lawyer.

  • If you fear for your safety
    If you are worried about your safety and it is an emergency call the police on 000. The police can apply for an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO). If the police don’t apply for the AVO and you are still worried about your safety you can apply for an AVO at the Local Court.
    Get legal advice first.

For legal advice


A free government telephone service that provides legal information, referrals and sometimes advice for people who have a legal problem in NSW.

They can refer people to their closest legal service, including their closest Community Legal Centre.
1300 888 529

Can police mediate a neighbourhood dispute?

NSW Police are mainly involved in criminal matters. If disputes between neighbours don’t involve a criminal offence, the police will probably not get involved and tell you it is a ‘civil’ matter. Civil matters are the types of disputes set out under
My client is having a dispute with their neighbour. What can they do?

Police may try to mediate a dispute if they think the problem may lead to a criminal matter or an AVO. For example — if they think a dispute could end up in property damage, assault, intimidation, harassment, stalking or another form of violence.

Police may get involved in noise disputes if the situation is urgent. For example — if a house alarm continues to go off or there is a loud party late at night.

Site content is current as at November 2018

​For more information

State library NSW Find Legal Answers — Neighbours

Guide for community workers

Download the PDF version of the Community Workers Guide [PDF 871kb]

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