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Who Should Pay for a Boundary Fence?

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Boundary Fencing by COLORBOND®

If you or your neighbour would like to erect a new boundary fence – either to replace an existing fence, or create a new boundary – then you must both be on the same page about who pays for the fence.

Here’s how to avoid a potential neighbour dispute, and ensure you both contribute equally and fairly to the project.

What the law says about dividing fences

Each state and territory has their own rules about dividing fences. But there are a few stipulations which apply to all regions, albeit with slight variations. For this reason, you should always consult your local council to find out how the rules apply to you.

Most state and territory acts stipulate the following:

A dividing fence is a fence built to separate two pieces of adjoining land.

A retaining wall or any wall that is part of a house, garage, or other building. However, these types of walls may reduce or eliminate the need for a dividing fence altogether.

Either inside or outside the common boundary that divides two pieces of land. Only a licensed surveyor can determine the exact location of a common boundary. Although a copy of a land title can also give an indication as to the boundary dimensions.

How to give notice of intent to build a new fence

Most acts encourage both neighbours to first have an informal chat about building a new dividing fence.

Depending on how receptive the other person is to the idea, you may be able to reach an agreement on the type of fence, where to build it, and how the costs will be split between each other. If this occurs, then you can begin the works as agreed.

However, if the other person objects to any aspect of the idea, you should submit a written notice. This formal document sets out a proposal for the construction of the new boundary fence, including the type of fence, location, choice of contractor, and total installation cost. You should also include at least two quotes from different contractors.

From there, the other party will have a set number of days to respond. The response time may differ for each state and territory. If they fail to respond within the set response time, you can proceed with the works and seek reimbursement through the relevant courts.

For further advice on who should pay for boundary fencing, contact Dunn & Farrugia today.

Who pays for a dividing fence?

Generally speaking, the owners of two adjoining lands must pay equal share to the construction and ongoing care of a sufficient dividing fence.

What is considered ‘sufficient’? There are many factors to determine what a sufficient dividing fence is. These include height, type of fence, quality of materials, privacy, security, and the way in which both neighbours use the land. Your state or territory authority and local council guidelines may also have their own definition too. Refer to them for further clarification.

However, if one person wants a dividing fence that is of a higher standard than a ‘sufficient’ dividing fence – for example, a fence that is taller or made of more expensive materials – then that person should pay the difference in cost between a sufficient dividing fence and a higher standard.

Another thing. If the dividing fence is built outside the common boundary line – for example, it sits further in on one piece of adjoining land than the other – this may also influence how the cost of installation is split between two neighbours.

If an agreement cannot be made on who pays for the new fence, then a court must decide on the issue. Obviously, it’s always best to reach a fair agreement on your own terms, without involving the legal system.

Tenants and landlords

In the case of tenants and landlords, a residential tenant is not required to contribute to the cost of installation and repairs for a dividing fence. Unless, the tenant has a long-term lease on the land and agreed to special conditions – i.e. five years or more.

However, commercial tenants may be required to contribute to the cost of installation and repairs for a boundary fence if circumstances permit.

For further advice on who should pay for boundary fences, talk to the experts at Dunn & Farrugia today. Simply call (02) 4731 6974 or fill out the online form to request a quote.

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