“My tenant has cut down a large tree on my property. It was a key feature of the backyard, offered privacy and was the only shade available for entertaining and the children’s play area. Do I have any rights to seek reimbursement from the tenant for removing the tree without my permission?” Owner, NSW
We asked Senior Property Manager & Sales Agent at AJ Duffy United Realty, Guy Bezzina, for his advice.
“I believe that the owner of the premises does have a right to seek compensation,” Guy said.
“Initially, the tenant should have sought permission from the owner/agent and perhaps local council, as they will have restrictions on removal of certain trees, in which case a fine could also be imposed.”
Guy said that should the Tribunal consider this to be damage to the premises, compensation would be payable as it would breach the tenancy agreement.
Damage and Reimbursement
A rental property is more than just a housing structure. All the landscaping, including shrubs, trees and other features) come included with the property. The lease agreement your tenant signs should outline the expectations and conditions for living there while paying rent.
However, most leases do not permit tenants to make significant changes anywhere on the property, including the landscape. Most lease agreements allow the tenant to enjoy the use of the property but do not permit them to alter anything on the property beyond simple repairs or maintenance.
Cutting down a tree can affect the property value. It can result in serious action from the landlord, mainly because it can potentially land the owner in trouble for the unauthorised removal of a tree. If your tenant cuts down a tree on your property without permission, it could be considered Damage to the Premises.
Removing a tree from a property could be considered a violation of the lease agreement and lead to fines, penalties, and possibly eviction. If the tenants in question are otherwise good, landlords may ask for reimbursement to cover the damage.
Guy Bezzina is the Senior Property Manager and Sales Agent at AJ Duffy United Realty in Mascot, New South Wales. Guy brings 31 years of real estate experience to the game, focusing on tenancy laws and regulations, tenancy evictions, and NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal appearances. Guy started with AJ Duffy in 2021 after three years as the Owner of One Agency Bezzina Property Group in Rosebery. AJ Duffy was established in 1919 and has participated in developing and growing such suburbs as Mascot, Botany, Eastlakes and Rosebery.