Do I need my adjoining neighbour’s agreement before I erect a new fence?

If you wish to claim a contribution and the adjoining land is not vacant, there must be an agreement or a court order in place before erecting the fence.

Where the adjoining land is vacant, you do not need an agreement.

Once the fence is erected a claim for a contribution can be made on the owner when there is a substantial building erected on the land, or when the land owner occupies or permits the occupation of any building on the land.

You do not need an agreement if you want to erect the fence entirely at your own expense, and forego any right to a contribution under the Act. The fence you erect must still be a ‘sufficient fence’.

If you decide to erect a fence at your own expense, it is recommended that you give the adjoining owner the details of the proposal as a courtesy, and to enable them to make arrangements to protect their property or animals during the construction process. A decision to erect a fence entirely at your own cost does not give you the right to enter the adjoining owner’s property without their permission during construction.

Do I have to have more than one quote to give to my neighbour?

The Act does not specify a requirement for the obtaining of quotes but it is suggested that you should try to obtain at least two written quotes.

My neighbour is going to build a wall along the boundary and I am concerned about how it will look from my side.

This is not covered by the Dividing Fences Act 1961, however, under section 88(3) of the Building Act 2011, an outward-facing wall along the boundary which forms part of a garage, shed, or building is required to be of a reasonable standard. The local government may, for the purpose of imposing a condition on a building permit, or making a building order, specify the way in which an outward-facing side of a close wall must be finished. Contact Building Services 9941 0000 for further information.

Can I take down the existing dividing fence without my neighbour’s agreement?

Once a dividing fence is erected, it becomes joint property. Both adjoining landowners are liable to maintain the fence, regardless of the contribution made to the cost of its erection.  Therefore either party cannot remove, alter or damage in any way affect the structural integrity of the dividing fence.

I am about to put up my new dividing fence and want to know where on the boundary it should go. Does it have to be located wholly on my property?

The fence should normally be placed along the boundary line, with half the structure in each property. Where this is not practical you may agree to locate the fence wholly in one or other property. You should record an agreement to do this in writing. The Act allows for a fence to be considered a dividing fence even when it is not on the common boundary. This means both neighbours can be asked to contribute to the cost. 

What should I do about my neighbour who is refusing to pay for half of the cost of the fence?

Mediation services may be used to assist with dispute resolution. If the former attempts fail, the Act provides that the matter may be settled through the court, however, it is recommended that you try to resolve the issue through discussion with your neighbour first.

The land next door is vacant but they have started building on it. How much of the building must be constructed before I can make a claim for half the cost of the fence?

You can make a claim when a substantial building has been completed. This should not be confused with a building that is substantially completed. It is only once the building is complete that you may make a claim under section 13 of the Act.

How much time does the adjoining owner have to pay me my claim for half the fence cost now that a substantial building has been completed on his land?

The adjoining owner is required to pay within one month of the receipt of your claim. You may enter into an agreement with your neighbour to allow a longer time period or agree to accept payment by instalments. Such agreement should be in writing and signed and dated by both parties.

Do I have to contribute to the cost of a fence when my land is still vacant?

No, not unless you have agreed to contribute before the fence is erected or unless the adjoining owner obtains a court order, before the fence is erected, requiring you to contribute. 

My lot was vacant and my neighbour has constructed a brick fence, do I have to pay for half of it?

Yes, only if the minimum standard for a fence in that location is a brick fence. The minimum standard could be as a result of the local government’s fencing local law or town planning scheme, or through a condition of sale imposed by the developer as a covenant. As a general rule you would have to contribute half the cost of a sufficient fence, this being the minimum standard required by your local government.

I am about to build and do not like the fence my neighbour just erected and I do not want to pay them anything. Can I do this?

No, if the fence that is erected is a sufficient fence; is acceptable to the local government; and is in keeping with other fences in the immediate area, the adjoining landowner who erected it has a legal right under the Act to claim half payment of a sufficient fence when you complete your building.

My neighbour built their house first and erected a fence that I did not like. I wanted a green colourbond and they erected a wooden one. I have since built my house and erected a fence on my land. 

Yes, the original fence is the dividing fence and you would be required to pay half the cost of it and also bear responsibility for a half share of the ongoing maintenance costs of the dividing fence. The cost for the erection and ongoing maintenance of the second fence would be yours entirely.

My neighbour has claimed from me half the cost of the dividing fence he erected. I am the second owner of the property and feel that they should have gotten their money from the previous owner. 

An owner or owners of adjoining land are liable to pay even if they were not the owners of the land when the fence was constructed, provided that no previous adjoining owners had paid a claim to the owner who erected the fence. The Act does not specify any time limitations for seeking a contribution of costs between owners. If you are concerned that you may have run out of time to claim from your neighbour you should seek independent legal advice.

My neighbour and I are at about the same stage of building our houses. They want a metal fence and I want a fibrous cement one that goes into the ground. I have a dog to contain and it could easily di

The best way to erect a fence is by agreement with the adjoining owner. You should first try to resolve any differences by discussing the matter with the owner. You may wish to consult a mediator, who can assist you in resolving differences. If you cannot reach an agreement, the matter may be referred to the Magistrates Court.

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