Planning to build a new boundary fence or need to maintain a current fence? The Fencing Act 1978 provides clear guidance for building or maintaining a fence on your boundary.
If you can, you should talk to your neighbour direct. Oftentimes, arrangements can be made between parties in an relaxed and straightforward way. However, even if you are on good terms with your neighbour, it is helpful to understand your rights and obligations under the Act.
Does my neighbour have to pay?
Generally, the costs of building or repairing fences are shared equally, unless one neighbour has damaged the fence. Then the cost falls solely on them.
When maintaining a current fence, your neighbour will only have to contribute to the cost of a new fence if the existing fence is not already in a ‘reasonably satisfactory’ condition.
What if we cannot agree?
Sometimes compromises have to be made. Maybe one neighbour pays more so their preferred type of fence is adopted.
If there is an irresolvable dispute, the District Court or Disputes Tribunal can assist.
If you cannot reach agreement with your neighbour but you want them to pay, you can serve them a ‘Fencing Notice’ before building or repair works are undertaken. The Fencing Notice must specify:
- Where on the fence the work is to be completed;
- The nature of the work proposed, and the materials to be used;
- The cost of the work involved; and
- That you want the neighbour to contribute to the cost of the fence.
Can my neighbour decline?
If your neighbour says “no” and the procedures under the Act are not followed, your neighbour will not be liable to pay.
Your neighbour can also object upon receipt of a notice, in which case a District Court or Disputes Tribunal may have to decide the issue.
Some councils regulate the height and colour of fences and how close they can be built next to waterways.
With the increase of subdivisions, check for any covenants on your title to make sure that there aren’t any rules to follow when building or maintaining a boundary fence.
If you require assistance with a boundary fence dispute, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the friendly staff at PRLaw.