You are responsible for the construction and maintenance of dividing fences on the land you are occupying. Neighbours usually share the cost of a standard fence even though the Fences Act does not state the actual apportionment of cost between neighbours. Similarly, a neighbour wanting a more expensive fence or a high fence than a standard fence usually pays for the extra amount.
Before building a fence
If you want to build or re-build a fence you should first discuss it with your neighbour. If you both agree, you should obtain the neighbours consent in writing.
For more information about building fences, read about planning permits for front fences.
What if you cannot agree with your neighbour?
If you cannot agree with your neighbour, you may want to serve them a Notice to Fence. A Notice to Fence sets out where the fence will go, how the fence will be built and the type and cost of fence. Although not required under the Act, it is usual practice to attach two quotations from fencing contractors with the Notice to Fence.
If you do not hear from your neighbour or if you do not reach agreement after one month of serving the Notice to Fence, call the Dispute Settlement Centre on 1300 372 888 to set up a free mediation service. If you cannot reach a resolution, you can apply to the Magistrates’ Court for an Order.
Fencing disputes are civil matters and as such, cannot be resolved by us. If you cannot reach an agreement with your neighbour, or would like free legal advice on fencing issues, we recommend you contact the Dispute Settlement Centre on 1300 372 888.
What if the neighbour is a tenant?
Different rules apply if the neighbour is a tenant. If one of the neighbours is a tenant and the lease has less than three years to run, the landlord usually shares the cost of a standard fence provided the tenant notifies the landlord or agent within 14 days of the service of any notice on the tenant. Where the lease has more than three years to run, there is specific provision in the Act for the apportionment of cost between the landlord and the tenant.
What if the adjoining land is owned by the government?
If the adjoining property is owned by the Government such as a lane, road, street or a park, you should contact us. In most cases we do not contribute to the cost of the dividing fence.
What if the fence is damaged by the neglect of the neighbour?
If the fence is damaged through the neglect of an occupier (eg. by a falling tree or fire or during demolition of building work), the occupier is usually liable to repair the damaged portion of the fence.
For more information
On fencing call our Building Services team on 9243 8888.