05 October 2015
Fences and Neighbours – What You Need To Know
It’s often difficult to know exactly what your obligations are to your neighbours when it comes to building a fence. How do you share the cost, what happens if there’s a dispute and what are your obligations to each other?
The ideal scenario involves keeping each other informed and avoiding any kind of hostility or disagreement. If you can come to a sensible conclusion between yourself and your neighbor, you can go ahead and erect or repair a fence however you like, as long as it falls within the guidelines outlined by your local council. But even if you are on good terms with your neighbour, building a fence can be a confusing process when it comes to understanding what each beighbours’ obligation is.
Do I Have To Build A Fence?
No, you don’t. If you don’t want a fence, you are under no legal obligation to build one. However, if you don’t want a fence and your neighbour does, under most circumstances you will be required to allow one to be built and most often also required to contribute payment.
I Want To Put Up A Fence, Do I Have To Let My Neighbour Know?
Yes, you do. You need to let them know exactly what you are proposing. This must be made formal by writing and dating a written proposal. For added legal security, it is a good idea to send the note through registered post.
What Do I Need To Let My Neighbour Know?
When informing your neighbours of plans to erect or modify a fence, you need to let them know about a few things:
- Why is the fence needed?
- How will the fence be built?
- How much will it cost?
What Happens After I’ve Notified My Neighbour?
After you’ve notified your neighbour the are given the right to respond. They can challenge any part of your proposition by issuing a counter proposal. If this leads to an agreement, the fence can be built, if you have an unresolvable disagreement, the issue can be taken to court. Some more important points are outlined below:
- Your neighbour has 30 days to respond to your proposal.
- If they do not respond, you can assume they are giving their consent for you to proceed.
- If you start work on the fence before the thirty days is over, your neighbour will not be obliged to pay for half of the cost, because you have proceeded without consent.
- If your neighbour issues a counter proposal, you have 30 days to respond.
What If I Want To Pay For The Entire Fence? Can I Do Whatever I Want?
Even if you pay for the entire fence, it is jointly owned by you and your neighbour. Any changes will still require the consent of both you and your neighbour.
Are There Regulations On How I Go About Building The Fence?
Even if your neighbour agrees to building the fence, you can’t go onto their property without also getting permission to do so. If you hire someone else to do the work, you are both giving your consent in agreeing to pay for their services.
What If Me Or My Neighbour Doesn’t Want To Pay?
If someone doesn’t want to pay and no solution can be reached, the issue can be taken to the courts. The court will judge what kind of a fence is needed. Most often the cost will be split evenly, but if the fence is clearly more beneficial to one neighbour than another, the splitting of costs will reflect that.
The best way to go about building a fences is to be open with your neighbour and work with them to find something that works for you both. Taskforce has fencebuilders Australia wide, and their expertise can help you find a solution that satisfies everyone.