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Good Fences Make Good Neighbours

 10th Feb 2019   published by: Dan Wiley

Building a fence between you and your neighbour opens up a dialog, and a business relationship, between you and someone you might not know well, or normally speak with. Unexpectedly, building a barrier between you and your neighbour can be a way to build a great relationship. However, it can also be challenging to reach agreement. Good communication is essential and always be willing to compromise.

Each State and Territory has different laws regulating neighbours’ responsibilities towards dividing fences. The relevant legislation includes:

The DFA and CBA have similar goals and are designed to settle the contentious aspects of sharing a fence, such as:

  • Who is responsible for the cost of fencing work
  • Procedures for carrying out the work
  • Procedures for resolving disputes

Generally, in the Australian Capital Territory, neighbours who share fences are each responsible for half the cost and maintenance of a “basic urban fence” - a 1.5 metre hardwood paling fence. In New South Wales, neighbours are generally responsible for half the cost and maintenance of a “sufficient dividing fence”, which does not have a single definition and is determined considering circumstances such as the existing dividing fence (if any) and the kind of fence usually used in the locality.

Nothing in the DFA or CBA prevents neighbours coming to their own agreement about a fence. For example, neighbours may agree that one owner will pay the whole cost, or may agree to build a fence that exceeds the minimum requirements set out in the relevant Act. But, to avoid the need for development approval, the proposed fence must satisfy the State or Territory planning regulations.