We understand making a claim against Council can be time consuming and difficult. We want to help make the process as easy and clear as possible for you.

Here are a few things to consider before making a claim

Is Council liable?

Inner West Council has certain legal obligations and responsibilities under the Civil Liability Act 2002 (‘the Act’). The Act also provides protections for local government authorities that Council will rely on to defend a claim. We will always seek to resolve claims made against Council fairly however it is important you consider the legal basis of your claim before it is submitted.

There are particular obligations, and limitations or constraints, on councils which will affect Council’s liability for incidents and events, which might be different to what you expect. You will need to show that Council was negligent and caused your property damage or personal injury.

You also need to be aware, Council reserves the right to recover costs which it incurs in successfully defending insurance claims, particularly where those costs relate to investigating or defending against vexatious or unreasonable claims or allegations made against Council.

Council is not liable in the following circumstances

  • Third-party claimants are unable to establish the cause of the damage/injury.
  • Damage caused by Council’s contractors; claims need to be referred to the relevant contractors directly.
  • Alleged tree related damages from severe weather events and natural shedding.
  • Alleged tree related damage to property where Council was not previously made aware of the problem. 
  • Claims for damage to an asset that is the responsibility of the private owners to maintain and keep in good condition. For example, alleged tree related damages where the property owner has failed to properly maintain and repair the roof, gutters or pipes; or stormwater outlet related claims located where it is the private owner’s responsibility.
  • Roads maintained and managed by Transport for NSW (TfNSW).
  • Incidents involving pit lids and other infrastructure belonging to utility companies (such as gas, power/electricity, water, telecommunications), which need to be referred to the relevant utility and their website.

How to lodge a claim against Council

As the claimant you will need to provide evidence to support your claim. Evidence we may require from you can include expert reports from licenced engineers, arborists, plumbers and similar persons.

Proof to be provided

It is important to provide the following information along with any proof to support your claim:

  • Full name and contact details of the person making the claim.
  • Date, time, and location of the incident.
  • Map and exact address of the location of the incident (marking the exact spot with a ‘X’).
  • Brief statement about why you believe Council is liable.

Please note: We may request further information to assess your claim.  

Where to lodge your claim 

Via our website at Report an issue/Request a service.  

 Contact Customer Service on 02 9392 5000 if you need help lodging your claim online.

Mail to: 

Inner West Council 
Attn. Insurance team 
P.O. Box 14 Petersham NSW 2049. 

Please note: We will acknowledge receipt of your claim and assess it, however that does not mean Council has accepted liability. 

Assessing your claim

Depending on the complexity of the circumstances and the evidence you provide to Council, the process of investigation and determination can take up to 12 weeks (or longer).  In some instances, complex claims may be referred to external assessors.

We will keep you updated periodically on how we progress in assessing your claim. In need, you can contact our Claims Officer on 02 9392 5058.


More Information for you to consider

Public trees

Public trees are maintained by Council. However, this does not mean Council is always liable for incidents relating to public trees.

Where property owners believe that public tree roots are or may cause damage to their property (structure, fence, driveways, sewer, or stormwater pipes) they should report the issue to Council as soon as possible. This will allow Council to take appropriate action regarding the public tree.

For further details on Public Trees, please refer to our Street trees page.

Potholes and footpaths

Local roads and footpaths (known as “unclassified roads") are maintained by Council while main roads and footpaths (known as “classified” roads) are maintained by Transport for New South Wales.

Potholes or any other hazards on Council roads and footpaths must be reported to Council as soon as possible, so Council can make the necessary repairs. However, this does not mean Council is always liable for damage to private vehicles or for personal injuries suffered by road and footpath users. Liability will depend on whether Council was specifically aware of the hazard and whether Council acted negligently in not dealing with the hazard considering its available resources.

Motor vehicles

Third-party claimants alleging vehicle damage by a Council vehicle need to provide sufficient evidence to support their claim.

For urgent repairs, third-party claimants may want to lodge a claim directly with their own insurer, as investigation and determining liability can take some time.

Third-party claimants also have the responsibility to avoid incurring unnecessary costs and should ensure their damaged vehicle does not pose a hazard to others.


Stormwater outlets from private property to the kerb and gutter are the responsibility of property owners.

For further details on when Council will and will not act in relation to stormwater outlets, please see the Stormwater page.

Making a claim against your own insurance

If you hold a policy of insurance (motor vehicle or home insurance), you may wish to consider lodging a claim through your own insurer. If you do so, your insurer is likely to require you to pay the relevant excess.

Your insurer may seek to recover the claim against Council on your behalf and if successful may refund you the insurance excess. Council cannot advise you on any aspect of your own insurance policies. Please consult with your insurer.

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Page last updated: 16 Nov 2023