Know your rights when you have a fence war with your neighbours

Boundary fences are one of the major causes of property disputes between neighbours.

So, what are your rights when a new dividing fence needs to be put up between you and next door? picket-fence

Broadcaster Richard Glover wrote a column for the Sydney Morning Herald outlining to his son on his 18th birthday some lessons he’d learnt about life. 

One of them related to the neighbours: “Never get into a fight with your neighbours. Apologise. Make peace. Buy them a case of beer… anything”

It’s excellent advice.

But what happens if your neighbour suddenly announces he wants to build a brand new fence on the boundary you share and he wants you to pay half?

You’re adamant the existing fence is fine. 

It’s going to be hard not to get angry and turn it into a dispute, isn’t it?

According to Peggy Kadis, executive director of the Southern Community Justice center, which operates the Community Mediation Services in South Australia, boundaries and retaining walls caused the highest number of neighbourhood disputes in the 2008 to 2009 period.  

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“It’s more than double our other high ones – trees and plants, behaviour and noise,” she says.  “It’s by far the highest”.

Fence disputes are so infamous they became the subject of a play, The Great Divide, which tells of the dramas created when a young Greek couple move in and want to replace a dividing fence with a huge brick wall.

“They (fence disputes) create a disturbance out of proportion to the actual issues,” says Roger Batrouney, a local government and planning specialist at law firm Slater and Gordon.

“People are fighting about their castles, aren’t they?  Someone’s trying to breach the ramparts of the castle – that’s how they see it sometimes”

Batrouney says that boundary fence disputes are “30 percent law and 70 percent emotion”. 

So, while it’s good to have your head around the law, it’s often people’s attitude that needs to change to ensure sensible resolutions. 

Is it really worth having a toxic relationship with your neighbour over a fence and a few thousand dollars?

WHAT THE LAW SAYS

Boundary or dividing fences are defined by law under various state legislation. 

There are differences between each state, but the laws are broadly similar.  legal law

It’s worth consulting a solicitor for the exact legal requirements in each state.

In New South Wales, for example, under the Dividing Fences Act 1991, a dividing fence is defined as a fence that separates the lands of adjoining owners. 

It may be of any material, a ditch, an embankment or a vegetative barrier such as a hedge. 

It isn’t a wall of a building, nor is it a retaining wall – except if it’s used as a foundation or support for the fence. 

The act defines a ‘sufficient’ dividing fence as one that “adequately separates the properties”. 

For example, a paling fence in a residential area, or a wire and steel star post fence in a rural area.

In most states, adjoining owners must share the cost of the fence. 

That obligation only occurs if the fence is inadequate or there is no fence.

There are exceptions:

  • If one neighbour wants a higher standard fence than required, then they must pay the additional cost: or
  • If one neighbour damages the fence, they have to pay for the entire costs of restoring it.

In most states, the fencing Acts don’t apply to property boundaries adjoining unoccupied Crown land. 

“The law isn’t perfect but it does have a significant role in having these disputes resolved without people belting each other to death in the streets, Batrouney says.

APPROACHING YOUR NEIGHBOURS

So what happens if you or your neighbour decide to build a new boundary fence?

According to most state laws you need to serve your neighbour with a ‘notice to fence’, but most lawyers recommend informally approaching your neighbour before that.

“The desired approach is not to follow the law strictly, in the first instance,” says Glenn Thexton Lawyers which specialises in fencing disputes. Paint 2383335 1920

“Try to have a discussion with your neighbour with a view to being a long-term neighbour and avoiding conflict.”

He says another good idea is to present the neighbour with a fence quotation and give them an opportunity to get their own quote.

Tim O’Dwyer and Bradley agree this is the best first step.

“The positive approach is to talk to the person who owns the property about either a new fence or a fence repair or upgrade,” he says. 

“Try and get a phone number and be positive and friendly and be reasonable in what you’re proposing. If someone is asking you to contribute to a fence, be reasonable and realistic. If it’s an investment property there are going to be tax advantages for what you spend on the fence anyhow.”

O’Dwyer says fences are often things that investors don’t like spending money on.

“Landlords tend to see it as money down the drain”, he says, “but a property fully and adequately fenced is more rentable and a more attractive proposition for any prospective tenant, particularly a tenant with young children and pets you’re happy for them to have in the yard, but not in the house.

IF YOUR NEIGHBOURS SAY NO

The problem is a lot of neighbours will say no to an initial approach which can trigger a dispute.

According to the Department of Justice in Victoria, disputes arise over a variety of issues

  • One neighbour feels the current fence is adequate, or just needs repair; Property Investment Checklist 300x199 300x199
  • One neighbour blames the other for the need to replace the fence;
  • Both neighbours agree they need a new fence, but one or both can’t afford it at present;
  • Neighbours disagree about the position of the title boundary;
  • The neighbours want fences of different height;
  • The neighbours disagree about whether the front end should ‘rake’ or taper down for visibility;
  • One neighbour fears the weight of attachments like trellises may damage the fence. The list seems endless.

According to Richard Berckelman, who runs fencing contractor All Day Fencing, the most common disputes he sees are over location, type and cost of the fence and the fence height.

Carl Weiss, a fence builder based in the western Brisbane suburb of Brookfield, says,

“There are a lot of arguments about neighbours who want different kinds of fences, where the boundary is, if they’re getting a paling fence, who gets the paling side and who gets the non-paling side?

Slater and Gordon’s Batrouney says one of the most common disputes is over where the fence goes.

He says 10 percent of the time, the fence is exactly on the title boundary, but in most other cases it’s not.

“Often because of the passage of time, or because of fencing contractors, the fence isn’t actually on the title boundary,” he says. 

“Builders aren’t surveyors and near enough is often good enough.”  13533867_l1

He says there’s wiggle room in the law for some discrepancy.

“Generally, it doesn’t make much difference. 

An inch or two?  Big deal. But some people get very excited about it.  Some people will go to quite an amount of cost to get the fence on the boundary.”

He says establishing the title boundary involves a surveyor to establish where it is and its relation to the fence.

Another big issue is aesthetics. 

What happens if the neighbour wants to put up a large fence you deem ugly? 

Batrouney says you can oppose it on those grounds. 

But the neighbour has the option of building an ugly fence on his side of the property.

If a neighbour rejects an informal approach, they can then be served a notice to fence, personally or by post.

“Formalise it into a notice to fence,” Thexton says. 

“Then, if possible, a lawyer should give the neighbour a call.”

He says a lot of lawyers aren’t keen to resolve a dispute by phone which takes 20 to 30 minutes – their fees won’t be high. 

“But sometimes people’s ears prick up when a lawyer rings,” he says. 

“The fundamental thing is to ensure the neighbour you’re seeking to get payment from understands their obligation at law.  It often becomes a question of getting the other person to take notice of the action. They might receive a notice to fence in accordance with the Act but they simply ignore it.”

MEDIATION

What if the neighbour continues to object?

The next step is mediation, which is designed to keep the issue out of the courts and hopefully find a resolution. hammer-802296_1920

Most states have a mediation service. 

In South Australia, it’s Community Mediation Services (CMS). 

Executive director Peggy Kadis says when people approach them about fencing disputes they ask if they’ve approached the neighbour themselves.  Most have.

“We do get some people that ring and haven’t approached their neighbour,” she says.  “We usually get them to do that unless there’s some issue of safety or fear.”

The mediation service will then write to the neighbour saying they’ve been approached.

“Usually the other party gets back to us and lets us know they’ll fix it,” she says. “Or they won’t get back to us.  Or they’ll try and negotiate it.

“If it can’t be done by negotiation we bring the parties together for mediation.”

CMS has a number of offices where mediation takes place. 

They organise the closest offices to the neighbours and set up mediation, which runs for two hours, and sometimes longer if necessary. 

Two qualified mediators attend. Financial Meeting At Office

“They’re neutral and they don’t take sides; they’re impartial,” Kadis says. 

“With clients, there are ground rules – to respect each other’s views, to not shout at each other and not abuse each other.  We’ve got a complex behavioural dispute process which works to help resolve disputes where it may not have worked before. 

If it doesn’t work, then it’s not suitable for mediation.  There’s only so many mediators can do.”

Batrouney says Slater & Gordon urges people to resolve the dispute through Victoria’s Department of Justice Dispute Settlement Centre, which he says has a strike rate of around 50 per cent.

“We try and get them to go there first. We try and avoid as much as possible neighbours getting in dispute with each other. We use every means available: firstly, to save them legal costs; and secondly so they have at least some reasonably civilised relationship with their neighbours.  

That doesn’t always work.  If all of that (mediation) hasn’t succeeded we try and talk common sense to the other side and get a practical resolution,” Batrouney adds. 

“Sometimes there’s no alternative to get an umpire’s decisions before the magistrate. What we try and do is not get people to waste money on lawyers.”

COURT

The next step is the court, where a decision will be handed down. 

Batrouney warns: “If you lose you pay all of your own costs and two thirds of the other party’s costs, and vice versa if you win. With court decisions, you’re left with an unhappy neighbourhood relationship.  The annual Christmas street party isn’t going to be much fun, is it?” Business 2717427 1920

Batrouney says a standard fence – a 130-foot paling fence – usually costs $2000, which by law the other party should contribute half. 

“If they don’t you’re much better off building it yourself than going to court,” he says. 

“You’d spend $3000 to $4000 more going to court. 

That logic isn’t always appealing to people.”

Thexton agrees the court should be avoided. 

“The amount of legal costs you can spend on a dispute can possibly outweigh the expense of the fence,” he says.

Ultimately, many people choose to pay for the new fence themselves.  

If the neighbour strongly objects to contributing this is a valid option and helps keep the peace with neighbours.  

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“If your neighbour won’t cooperate its good value still to spend the money yourself,” O’Dwyer says. 

“If you own the property a good fence will make it more saleable down the track. The best advice to a property owner, whether they live in it or rent it out, is don’t be stingy on keeping fences and retaining walls maintained.”

Fence disputes are legal issues, but emotions often take over and prevent sensible outcomes. 

O’Dwyer’s advice is blunt and perhaps the best guidelines when people look like becoming embroiled in a fence dispute:

“The grief and distress over a fence isn’t worth it.  In the big picture, fencing costs are usually pretty minimal in terms of what your property is worth.”

Richard Glover would no doubt agree.

Editors note: This article has been republished for the benefit of our many new readers. It was originally written by Ben Powers for Australian Property Investor Magazine in 2010 and has been republished with their permission

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'Know your rights when you have a fence war with your neighbours' have 155 comments

    Avatar

    March 11, 2020 Kylie

    Hi Michael,

    I’m in Queensland and our neighbour replaced our adjoining fence with the agreement we share the cost which we are happy to do but in installing their builder moved the fence so it sits fully within our boundary by up to 150mm confirmed by an Identification Survey. When installing the fence they also installed a concrete slab pathway the full length of our houses which also protrudes 150mm into our land (under the fence).
    We have approached our neighbours about the fence, concrete and survey and they have told us to take them to court as they think 150mm is trivial.
    My question is can I take them to QCAT where fencing disputes are handled in Qld or would the concrete slab not considered by QCAT? I’m worried it might be ruled by the Encroachments Act? Would the whole fence being on our land be considered trivial, it’s a small access side.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      March 11, 2020 Michael Yardney

      What’s trivial to one person is a big issue to others. Does the small encroachment of the concrete on your block affect you? It doesn’t change your legal entitlement to wear your land situated. However the fence should be sitting in the right position and you should not pay your share until it is moved into the correct spot, And I could understand if you pursue the matter in QCAT – The neighbour may be required to move the fence at his cost.

      Reply

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    March 11, 2020 Jody Johnson

    We share a 6′ wood picket privacy fence with our neighbor behind us. It’s been deteriorating for years. We’ve approached on more the one occasion in the last couple of years about replacement. Now we’re at present day and tired of waiting, so we informed them we plan to replace the fence. Provided them a diagram/bid explaining the cost and that we would be flipping the fence so we would now have the “pretty” side. We’re willing to pay up to full cost to do so. Are they entitled to the “pretty” side simply because it was that way previously? We want a nicer quality fence. They are ok with bottom of the line. We are fine with paying full cost or accept anything they would like to contribute. Do we have grounds to flip this fence? (Texas resisdent)

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      March 11, 2020 Michael Yardney

      If you’re in Texas I’m sorry I don’t know the local regulations as I’m Australian based – ask your local council

      Reply

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    February 20, 2020 Pearl

    Hi Michael,

    I’ve bought a unit in QLD few months ago. I had recently discovered a leaning fence (to my side)in between my neighbour and I. His land is about 100cm higher than mine, and the fence is sitting on top of it. The land owner was first agree to share the cost and wants me to bring a handyman in for quote, since he is located in other city. But he contact me today and said he is under contract on selling his property, and his solicitor advice him not to do anything for the fence. And suggested me to wait until his contract had been settled. Is there anything I can do now other than tie the fence up with a rope?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      February 20, 2020 Michael Yardney

      Pearl – the owner is probably lieing – it’s not likely his solicitor said that. He’s hust trying to get out of paying the expense.
      It won’t be easy to get the new neighbour to pay – pursue this

      Reply

    Avatar

    February 14, 2020 Robert

    Hi Michael

    Been having an issue with my neighbour recently. He demolished his backyard and built a couple of units on his land but the builders nudged a good wooden fence with their dozer and it is now leaning and broken. He now wants to build a new fence a bit higher than the original for privacy purposes and not only does he want me to pay half he is also saying the old fence wasn’t built on the boundary and wants to build the new one 20cm into my land. This is the family home, lived in it all my life (42 years), have a number of large established fruit trees that would be affected if I were to agree with his demands and the fence itself would push almost right up against my home, namely the hot water system. I believe I shouldnt have to cover the costs because he is responsible for breaking the fence but in regards to the 20cm encroachment what are my rights? Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      February 14, 2020 Michael Yardney

      Robert – the first thing you need to do is have a survey conducted to determine where the boundary actually lies. The adjoining owner would have need to do this to obtain a building permit. Get them to provide this to you to prove the fence should be moved.
      It is common practice for the builder of new developments to pay for the new fence – esp if the original was in good condition

      Reply

        Avatar

        February 15, 2020 Robert

        Thanks for the fast response……the owner has provided me with the paperwork showing the true boundary line is in fact 200mm over his side. The existing fence that his builders rammed and broke was there for at least 10 years + and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it until it was hit. With this in mind seeing HE broke the fence is it right of him to demand I pay for half and also demand the new fence be moved 200mm on to my side when the house is so close to the existing fence? Its hard to see anything positive for me from this plan considering ill be out of pocket, and down 3 well established trees for something that isn’t even my fault. I read if the fence wasn’t damaged (probably done on purpose) the boundary line and need for new fence wouldn’t even be an issue because the existing fence has been up for such a long time. Can I legally refuse any of his demands? I really feel like im getting screwed over here. Thanks in advance for the help u have provided or any further advice you can give 🙂

        Reply

          Michael Yardney

          February 16, 2020 Michael Yardney

          I can’t give you a legal opinion, but if the existing fence is (or was) in the wrong place your neighbour has a right to have this rectified and you are liable to contribute half of the cost of a regular paling fence

          Reply

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    February 10, 2020 marco ferraro

    Hi, I live in south australia and my neighbour is building units in place of where his house was. I agreed to changing our fence but now he also wants to add a plinth underneath it and demand I pay half or he’ll get the council to force me to. I spoke to the council and they said this is not true. Then I spoke on the phone to a lawyer with the legal services comission who told me the plinth is not counted as part of the fence when it comes to financial contribution and is considered an optional extra. He’s started making legal threats though. Was the lawyer correct? Also he has not given us any notices of intent regarding the fence, only quotes. So there is nothing written at this point. Can he still force us to pay? thank you

    Reply

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    February 10, 2020 Tim

    Hi Michael,
    I recently bought a property in QLD where the neighbour had already built a retaining wall to raise and level their land and there was a half completed concrete fence atop the wall. The original wooden fence was removed to build the retaining wall, but this was before I purchased. Does the neighbour normally still need to pay for the whole replacement fence, even though it happened before we purchased? They are requesting half of a fairly expensive concrete fence.
    Thanks for spending so much time replying to peoples questions.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      February 10, 2020 Michael Yardney

      Tim – I beleive your obligation is to pay have of a normal paling fence, if the retaining wall has already been built – why a concrete fence?

      Reply

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        February 10, 2020 Tim

        Thanks for replying. Sounds like I need to pay half a paling fence, even though an existing fence was removed so they could build a retaining wall. Thanks!

        Reply

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    February 9, 2020 David Bayliss

    Hi Michael.

    I have a retaining limestone wall 400mm wide apprx 1.5 m high (i’m on the high side). with an additional asbestos fence in need of replacement. The fence sits on my side of and abuts againt the retaining wall. I have noticed on my house plans that the boundary line is on the face of the Retaining wall not on the fence line. Can I erect a new fence on top of the retaining wall so the fence and face of the wall are inline. Im in Western Australia. Cheers, Dave.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      February 10, 2020 Michael Yardney

      David – I’m sorry I don’t understand your question – are you suggesting the new fence would be on the boundary or inside your portion of the land?

      Reply

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        February 27, 2020 David Bayliss

        Hi Michael. The new fence would be on the boundary. I belive that the current fence sits 400mm on my side of the boundary. Ill probably have to get this surveyed to confirm. So in effect im loosing about 400-500mm.

        Reply

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    February 6, 2020 Manuel

    Hi Michael,

    I share my backyard with 2 neighbors. One of my neighbor recently built a granny flat in his backyard. The granny flat is built quite high causing privacy issues for us. The neighbor is happy to raise the height of the fence for his portion of the backyard at his own cost. However this will result in uneven fence heights as the fence with my other neighbor will be much lower. This will give my backyard a weird look and may lower the value of my property. The question is should my neighbor who built the granny flat pay for the cost of raising the height on the remaining fence as well? It is the granny flat that is forcing us to change our fence heights. Please advise.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      February 6, 2020 Michael Yardney

      Manuel – I see your dilemma but if the granny flat has been built with council approval then your neighbour does not really need to pay for either part of a higher wall. Accept his generosity

      Reply

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    February 5, 2020 Carolyn

    Hi,
    We built our home 20 years ago backing on to a property which had a back fence on top of a retaining wall. We had to erect our own retaining wall when our plot was cut and filled to make room for a garden at the rear. Now the owner of the property behind us wants to replace the fence and retaining wall at the back of our property. I am happy to pay half for the fence but am I obliged under law to also pay for the retaining wall when we have already spent money on our own wall? I live in Brisbane.
    Thanks

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      February 6, 2020 Michael Yardney

      Carolyn – it’s hard to answer you without understanding the structural implications of the proposed fence – it sounds like the retaining wall is part of the boundary fence which means you are probably liable for part of the cost

      Reply

    Avatar

    February 4, 2020 Desiree F Bellingham

    Hi,
    We have a a house being built through a certifer next door to us so far has taken 2 yrs and still ongoing and we have emotional been upset by the lack of curtesy to us re downpour from no downpipes installed so runoff comes through to us and our fence we did have upside was partial trashed and we have had to put a temp fence up for our lab in backyard.We now find he has ordered a colourbond fence ready to be put it next week and keeps fobbing us off re an email of contractor and colour.Is he obligated to tell us and does he have too if he is paying for it all?We just want to get on with our lives and have a fence back so we don’t have our dog out on street.WE live in bluemountains NSW 2782

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      February 4, 2020 Michael Yardney

      If he is building a boundary fence he should get your approval of the colour, but since you’re not paying for it I guess he thinks he can do what he wants

      Reply

    Avatar

    January 29, 2020 Mel

    Hi Michael,
    We recently moved to a new house. As we wanted to have the fence on 3 sides, we sent fence notice to our three neighbours. One of the neighbours lives in New Zealand and first we got our fencing contractor to send him a fencing notice. As he didn’t get any response, I wrote him a letter introducing me and requesting him to share the cost. We sent it by registered post, but didn’t get a response. So we had to pay the full cost out of our pocket as we have kids and a small dog to protect. Again we sent him the invoice and another reminder letter by registered mail, but he keeps ignoring us. We paid $2100 for the fence and his share is $1050. We tried to contact Dispute Center, but we were told that they can’t do anything as the neighbour lives overseas. Could you please advise what to do? Is it worth to get a solicitor involved?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      January 29, 2020 Michael Yardney

      Sorry Mel – I can’t see that it would be worth paying legal costs to chase this up. It’s unfortunate but you’ll have to wear the cost of this

      Reply

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    January 28, 2020 gina

    Hi my name is Gina we live in nsw. I would like to put some privacy screening above our fence as we can see directly into the neighbours yard from our deck and he can see into our living area. I’ve been doing some research to make sure i comply with the laws but im very confused. Am i allowed to attach screening to the top of the boundary fence or can i put posts into the ground and then put the screening at the top of the posts to add that extra height above the existing fence so it is not attached to the fence? I read that it has to be 900mm from the boundary fence which sounds silly and would not work in our case. our neighbour likes to cause issues at the moment so i would like to make sure before we go ahead and our local council is terrible and will not help. Thanks

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      January 28, 2020 Michael Yardney

      Gina. I don’t want to leaf you astray. You’re a rate payer and you should insist that the council gives you clear directions on what you’re allowed to do and not do.

      Reply

    Avatar

    January 27, 2020 Gagandeep Sood

    Hi,

    I live in Victoria and recently moved into the new property. The property currently have a fence which is in good condition. Our property is located along the sloppy road. Therefore the left and right side of the property have high retaining wall and left and right neighbours. However the fence with the neighbour at back seem less though it already around two meter in height. We can see each other heads moving on the other side of the fence, also if their kids play in trampoline or air castle they can easy look into our fence. Even when mowing the lawn near the fence, their dog start barking and on one instance the owner looked over the fence to told me to stop moving as it’s too noisy for him. Is there a way that we can increase the fence height to enjoy privacy like with the other neigbours. What if he refuses to do so?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      January 27, 2020 Michael Yardney

      Gagandeep – rather than changing the fence why not put some trellis on your side of the fence – maybe with some creeprs or other plants. Or you can plant tress that will grow tall

      Reply

        Avatar

        January 29, 2020 Gagandeep Sood

        Thanks for you reply. I thought of that too but bit concerned what will happen if the branches or shrubs start going into their property. Will it be there responsibility to maintain their side
        Also there is easement going from left to right parellar to the back fence. Will it be safe to plant tall plants near it. I have already rang the council and they will let me know if I can have a garden bed along the fence or not.

        Reply

          Michael Yardney

          January 30, 2020 Michael Yardney

          You can definitely have a garden bed in an easement and probably trees – no you don’t have to maintain the other side

          Reply

    Avatar

    January 25, 2020 Best Fencing Ballarat

    Hey Michael,
    Thanks for taking the time to put together such an informative article. As fencing contractors ourselves it helps to be aware of the issues of legality behind boundary and dividing fence lines. I’ve seen a few circumstances of one property owner wanting to install more expensive fencing than what was had previously, with the other property owner being generally unwilling to foot the cost for a pricier upgrade. Things can get ugly pretty quickly which tends to make our job as fencing contractors a lot more difficult. Sorting things out at a personal, face-to-face level really seems like the way forward in most of these cases. Treat your neighbours the way you yourself would like to be treated! Thanks again for the great article. All the best.

    Reply

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    January 21, 2020 Abhi

    I am in the final stage of build and sent the fence notice to future neighbor. My next door neighbor mentioned that he is in the process of finalizing the build plan and his Garage will be on the boundary. However his build will start after 6 months and I planning to move there next month. Can I please ask your suggestions on following:

    1. What are the options I have for the fence till the time neighbor’s garage wall is not erected? I need fence for that length to secure my premise (with hot water system on this side). However I may need to take off the fence when he will start building, and then use the garage wall as fence. What is general protocol in such scenarios.

    2. When Neighbor’s garage wall is erected, Can I put in the wing fence joined to his garage wall ?
    Appreciate all you help and advise in advance. Thanks

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      January 21, 2020 Michael Yardney

      There’s no reason for you not to fence your property at present. Your neighbour will then have to see where his garage will sit and do what is necessary to the existing fence that you erected

      Reply

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    January 15, 2020 Katherine

    Hey Michael, we have recently run into an issue with our fence/neighbors. Our neighbors recently bought the house to flip and resell it. On that note, they told us they were going to tear down the existing fence this past fall. We decided to go ahead and build a new fence next to the old one (closer to our property) so that our two dogs would be safe in case he tore it down without letting us know.

    Now that the fence is up, he decided to get a survey done on his property and the new fence is about 3 inches (maybe even less) on his property. I didn’t know I had to get a survey done before building the fence since our contractor told us we didn’t need one since there was already an existing fence there. Thoughts on the best way to handle this? We think he may try to take us to court but it seems like a waste of time and money to have our contractor move the fence over a few inches for this disagreement. It was truly an honest mistake and he doesn’t want to negotiate with us.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      January 15, 2020 Michael Yardney

      Katherine
      It sounds like you may not be in Australia from some of the words you are using. I don’t know your local laws.
      Yes it would have been smart doing a survey before you started the works, but most people don’t. I would just wait and see waht the neighbour does – especially sine he won’t be your neighbour for long

      Reply

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    January 14, 2020 james lambert

    Hi Michael,

    I live in NSW, we recently moved into our new house, where there was an existing timber batten boundary fence dividing our home with our neighbours. We recently fixed a trellis to the fence on our side to allow osme planted jasmine to climb it. Our neighbour is advising that as she paid for the fence it is not our to touch (we have already painted our side with no comments from them. I thought as this was a boundary fence on our side we can fix things such as a trellis to it with no issue…is this correct and are we within our rights?

    Reply

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    January 3, 2020 Suzanne

    We built a sufficient fence on completing our build in ACT. 5 years later a new builder has built a two storey home next to us. They had some verbal conversations with my husband about what they potentially would like to do. They have since erected a colour-bond fence inside their boundary line that butts up to the fence but extends significantly above the current fence line. I have tried to approach by text to say we are unhappy with the impact on us and the builder is saying he will have his certifier inspect it and if it is approved he wont change it??? In some places the fence is higher then 3mtrs

    How can we resolve this? Can he get this approved with no consideration to our opinion?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      January 4, 2020 Michael Yardney

      Suzanne – this is not a joint boundary fence – it’s within his property and he hasn’t asked you to contribute, so it it is possible that he can getawawy with it – best to ask the local council what their regulations are

      Reply

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    November 25, 2019 Mark

    The neighbour of my house wants to replace our dividing fence personally. He said he would not pay the contractor to do the do which he can do. What are my options?

    Reply

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    November 15, 2019 Jo Houston

    I issued my neighbour with a fencing notice and are awaiting a hearing ay NCAT. My neighbour and his wife have sinced seperated. The house is now for sale. Does the fence issue have to be resolved before they can sell? Am I now forced to confront any new neighbour instead?

    Reply

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    November 13, 2019 Paul

    My neighbor has built a new duplex, but a fence that was built 20 years ago is angled so it is 10 cm out of line for about 8m. But there is a Large silt arrestor pit (storm drain) and the gas meter is there. They are requesting that we go to the cost of moving all this that could be $$$$$, We are in NSW>

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      November 13, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Paul – usually the developer of the new dwellings pays for the new fence

      Reply

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    November 8, 2019 Jill

    I am building in a new estate (Vic). My neighbour has finished construction before I have started.

    I had disclosed long ago, my intent to build the garage on the boundary line, but he has had a full fence put in without my consent and told me I have to pay.

    I initially didn’t have the funds available and told my neighbour this. He got upset and told me he wasn’t letting the garage section be removed without a court order.

    I managed to find the funds for half of the fence (excluding the part where the garage would be) and paid the fencer on time.

    I told the neighbour but got no response. Now he is refusing my builders access to his property to pour the slab.

    Can he do that?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      November 8, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Yes he can – but its a terrible way to start a relationship

      Reply

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        November 9, 2019 JIll

        What chances do I have of being successful if I do go to court?

        Reply

          Michael Yardney

          November 9, 2019 Michael Yardney

          I can’t answer that – sorry Jill – he doesn’t need to allow “strangers” on his property

          Reply

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    October 31, 2019 Graham

    I’m in Victoria, and I have a brick garage with one wall along the boundary in line with the fence. My neighbour has planted ivy or some such creeper which I’ve just noticed is covering virtually the entire wall on their side and is now starting to creep around the corner of the brickwork onto my side.

    Are they allowed to have a creeping vine such as this growing up my wall?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      October 31, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Your wall is also their boundary fence – so yes they can do whatever they want on their side including paint it

      Reply

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        November 1, 2019 Graham

        Is it a fence though?

        Fences Act 1968 S.3 (Definitions) states that “fence” excludes “any wall that is part of a house, garage or building.”

        Reply

          Michael Yardney

          November 1, 2019 Michael Yardney

          Sure – the fences act doesn’t apply but technically the face of the wall on his side is his

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            November 6, 2019 Graham

            I assume the neighbour would not be allowed to cause damage to my wall by, for example drilling into the mortar or brick and inserting masonry anchors? My point is that causing an an invasive plant such as ivy to grow on the brickwork (and up into the roof flashing / guttering) also has the potential to cause damage.

            Any thoughts on that?

            Michael Yardney

            November 6, 2019 Michael Yardney

            Graham – I can see that you neighbour has really annoyed you. If you have placed a wall on the boundary he has the right to put what he likes on his side of it, but it should not affect its integrity

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    October 29, 2019 Dave

    Hi Michael,

    I noticed that over time, my neighbour (in Victoria) has been deliberately moving the fence across the boundary line. The neighbour has a garden bed and has installed steel sleeper post which is set against their concrete flooring and the boundary fence (colour bond fence). I have seen wooden wedges wedged against the fence and their steel post, used by the neighbour to gradually move the fence. After a period of time when the fence “settles down”, the neighbour will just move the steel sleeper post against the fence and re-wedge it again. These actions have now caused certain top sections of the the fence to lean precariously on my side of the boundary and the fence is no longer straight. My neighbour refuses to talk and just wants to continual this gradual encroachment across the boundary line. Is there something i can do to make him stop? Thanks

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      October 29, 2019 Michael Yardney

      sorry to hear that – if he refuses to talk you may have to scare him. A letter from your solicitor may do the trick

      Reply

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    October 22, 2019 C Joe

    Hi Michael,
    Our garage wall is 15cm inside the boundary and the neighbour approached us he want to attached battens to hang plastic plants up to half length of our wall.
    We agreed to him as long as he use post to attached the battens, not directly onto our wall.
    Now we found out he doesn’t use a post, he attached the battens straight onto our wall and not just half length but the full length of the wall and he use the battens to support his tin shed roof.
    If the wall get damaged in future can we hold him responsible to it as he built his “greenery” not as per our agreement (with a post) and he also doesn’t ask our permission for the roof support battens, he only asked permission for the plastic plants.
    FYI, the neighbour is very hard to talk reasonable and a little stubborn.
    Thank you in advance.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      October 23, 2019 Michael Yardney

      C Joe – it’s a pity your neighbour is being difficult. It sounds like he didn’t do the right thing. If future damage occurs it may be hard to “prove” it was his works that caused it – best to ask him to remove them and avoid a future conflict

      Reply

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    October 18, 2019 SJB

    Onkaparinga council area – Adelaide, South Australia. My neighbour has built a 2m tall dividing fence out the front, where there was previously none. He did not approach us, or give us any notice at all. It is just a dividing fence, he has not fenced his entire front yard. Also, it was following a dog attack by his dog, which was freely roaming and not leashed. We did approach him while he was putting up string lines along the dividing boundary, which were very low, and he was quite confrontational at being forced to build some sort of barrier, and very unhappy that the council had deemed his dog a nuisance, and been forced to put a red/yellow collar on it, to identify it as a problem. No mention of the dog attack, or the cat. Never apologised. He was quite confrontational, and seemed annoyed that we had reported the dog attack (which happened completely on our property). The attack was so severe, it resulted in the cat being euthanized. Back to the fence: He has constructed a 2m high fence which is on an incline. It appears to be on the exact boundary line but since he never gave us notice, etc, we are unsure. There was previously no fence whatsoever. Our driveway is on the same side as the fence, really close to it. Their driveway is not. The fence obscures all vision we have while reversing out the driveway. It is literally zero visibility of the footpath/pedestrians. There is no vision of oncoming traffic from that direction either, but i am sure as we approach the road, we’d be able to see that. If we didnt run over a pedestrian first. He has built the fence 40 cm away from the footpath to divide the properties. I do not know his boundary line, as he served no notice, not rid he ask for permission to access our yard. 3 men were building the fence, one was in our yard. At least 2 of the men were making disparaging remarks about lowering the fence so the cat could jump it and be killed (impossible, its already dead). I found this quite distressing, and closed the doors/windows so we couldnt hear them. Anyhow, the fence goes so far out, we cant see if a tall pedestrian is coming, let alone a child who is much smaller, and more difficult to see. There is zero line of sight.
    What do i do? We dont object to the fence, but to the height as it approaches the footpath, since we cant see over it or through it. I am aware I am emotional over the loss of our beloved cat. I am also aware I cant see a thing exiting the driveway, had he bothered to give us notice we would have objected to the height as it completely obscures our view along driveway of pedestrians.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      October 18, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Usually a fence cannot be 2m high at the footpath for the visibility reasons you mention. Please ask the council if this is allowed

      Reply

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    October 13, 2019 JJ

    What if the neighbour is at fault and is unable to pay for the cost of repairs? What is the resolution then?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      October 13, 2019 Michael Yardney

      It depends what they did but the next step is usually mediation then a court hearing if this doesn’t work

      Reply

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    October 9, 2019 JAYPEE

    Great information. You always bring us up to date information , stated in easy to understand terms and It is not overwhelming. I appreciate that and I look forward to what is next.

    Reply

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    October 9, 2019 Oleg

    HI Michael,
    My neighbor built a shed at his backyard. The roof is extending over the fence approximately 0.6m. Also he put on the roof spare pieces of saw timber. All that makes my front view not nice. He refused to move the roof and saw timber back to his property.
    What can be done?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      October 9, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Oleg – It’s a pity your neighbour isn’t prepared to compromise – it may be worth speaking with the local council to see if they’re prepared to intervene otherwise you may have to take the matter to mediation at your local administrative Tribunal

      Reply

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    September 19, 2019 Marg

    Hello Michael,
    Our back neighbor excavated the land behind our house as they are constructing a new house. Its big drop in from the other side of the street. The neighbor has put a temporary fence in our property almost 2 meters inside on our backyard. Can I dispute them to put the temporary fence on the dividing boundary and not our backyard . They have dug up so far behind that they are almost encroaching on our property . Do they have right to put the temporary fence inside my backyard ?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      September 19, 2019 Michael Yardney

      I assume they’ve put the fence there to protect you from falling down the slope. Why not have a pleasant chat with them

      Reply

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    September 14, 2019 Kristi

    We have recently had our old block surveyed and it shows that the fence is currently on our property by about 200mm. The Neighbour has a shed on the property using that is now inside my property and his pool is using the fence as his pool fence as well. We need to move the fence over as we are building a house and need the space. He refuses to move his shed where do I stand?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      September 14, 2019 Michael Yardney

      If he’s not prepared to do the right thing you’ll need to go to your State tribunal for mediation

      Reply

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    September 12, 2019 Dave

    HI!
    I have an odd situation with our fence. We rent and our neighbor owns their place. Recently a small fire damaged about 5 of the fence palings on both sides of the fence. It is not known how the fire was started, we suspect a stray ember might have caused it but all parties are happy to accept that no one is specifically at fault.

    The owner of our house is wanting to have the fence repaired and the costs shared between themselves and the neighbor. The neighbor has said they are comfortable with the damage and have no desire to repair it.

    Is my neighbor obliged to pay for half of the costs to repair the fence given they are happy to live with the damage on their side and the cause of the fire cannot be determined?

    Cheers

    Peter

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      September 12, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Peter this is really a matter between the owner of the property and your neighbour – I’m not really sure why you should be involved. I guess the matter really depends upon how much damage there is

      Reply

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    September 12, 2019 nikki

    I want to replace the back fence. I share with 2 neighbours that fence (we have entire length they have half each). Its falling down and is part of a pool fence so needs replacing.
    I have proposed colourbond in monument, but they want a white fence.
    I said as compromise we could get a quote for a painter and go 50/50 on painting cost- they wont allow painting as it voids the warrenty.
    I also offered to get 2 panels colourbond so one person has one colour the other the other. They wont accept this as extra cost.
    They want white as the rest of their fence is white. I want black as mine is black.
    We are at a stale mate now. What is the next step- I served the notice to fence and they rejected it. I have offered to offer solutions they have rejected these- only accepting if we accept their colour which we wont do.
    Can I take this to QCAT (QLD) ? or will they just throw it out as trivial.
    Any ideas if we would have an advantage as we have the full length of fence or does this make no difference? I am unsure what to do as the next step. If we pay for it can we just go and build it anyway? (dont really want to lose land)

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      September 12, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Nikki
      It sounds like you have been very fair – and I can understand why you want a different colour to your neighbours – this is very common and is usually handled by having a paling fence and either side stating it the way they prefer.

      If you can’t reach agreement then you may need a form of mediation at Q cat

      Reply

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    September 6, 2019 Nathan

    The reason I asked the above question is that the existing woden fence is damaged. And we are looking at replacing with a colorbond fence. We like to know the boundary line so that we can put the colorbond fence right. When we put the colorbond fence, does centre of the colorbond fence lie on the boundary line?

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    September 5, 2019 Nathan

    We live in a suburb called Kambah in Canberra. At our fence we have triangle concrete post. Next to the concrete post we have a horizontal woden plank attached to the concrete post. Then we have vertical woden planks attached to the horizontal planks. So it is basically a woden fence supported by the concrete post. If the fence was built correctly where is our boundary line. Is it at the centre of the concrte post / centre of the horizontal woden rail / centre of the vertical woden planks ? Thanks.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      September 6, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Sorry Nathan – I have no idea – fencers are not usually that accurate. why do you ask – does it really matter?

      Reply

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    September 1, 2019 Lucy

    Hello! My neighbors and I don’t share a fence, however, there is about a 5 foot distance between our 6 ft. fences. The property in between our fences belongs to us. We built our home first and left that area un-fenced so that school children can use it to walk to school. Otherwise they would have no entry onto school property. Our neighbor’s fence along that side sustained some wind damage about 7 years ago and is leaning heavily into our property. They have made no attempt to repair it. My husband propped their fence up a little so that it will not fall into our fence should the wind blow it over further. Do the neighbors have an obligation to repair this part of their fence so that it’s not leaning over into our property?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      September 1, 2019 Michael Yardney

      If that’s your boundary fence – then you share that obligation.

      Also…be very careful I would not allow public access to your land – if something happens there you are liable PLUS if you’ve fenced it off and it is public you could lose it by adverse possession

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    August 28, 2019 Stewart

    Hi Michael thank you for your article it was a helpful read.

    I am in a tricky situation in NSW not covered in the articles so was hoping if you could give some insight on my situation?

    – We currently have an adequate boundary fence where 1/3rd of the fence is new colourbond 1.8meter high, 1/3 is an old 1meter high wooden fence, and the other 1/3 at the front is a rock garden
    – Neighbor wants to build a second dwelling which would create a privacy issue and change the classification of the fence to ‘inadequate’ as the access to the second dwelling will be via the boundary fence line.
    – Council agrees with this so has asked them to put a 1.8meter fence on their DA
    – We agreed with neighbour that it would be best to take down the wooden fence and continue the colourbond fence for the remaining 2/3rds of the boundary line. However the neighbour wanted me to pay half.
    – I said no on these grounds: Neighbour is responsible for making the existing fence inadequate so they should be liable to pay for the full cost to make the fence suitable
    – Neighbour does not agree with that. Instead they have changed their DA to extend the existing fence wood fence section to 1.8meters high and leave the 1/3 rock garden as is
    – I feel that the rock garden barrier is no longer suitable and a privacy height fence would be suitable should that boundary line become the access path the the second dwelling.
    – I also understand that they cannot modify the existing fence without my permission and I’m not giving them permission so I don’t see how council can agree to that despite council saying there is nothing we can do at this point. I don’t believe the fence can be modified satisfactorily given it’s age and style and to double it’s height.

    Not sure what to do at this point. Do you think I have legal grounds if I were to go down the path of a fencing order to not have to pay and get them to put up a colourbond fence for the remaining 2/3rds of the property?

    I understand that wanting a higher quality fence would normally mean I would pay that extra portion though because there is an existing colourbond fence 1/3rd of the way, does that mean they would legally have to continue with a colourbond fence?

    Thank you

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      August 28, 2019 Michael Yardney

      I’m not int he position to give you legal advice – not the right forum and too many issues involved – try and come to a compromise with your neighbour

      Reply

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    August 23, 2019 Albert

    Hi Michael
    we live on a little farm. The previous neighbours backing our land damaged the fence by hitting it while turning with tractor and a trench dug out on the fence line to harvest water. I have addressed the issue with them but they just ignored me. They since sold the land and i need this fence done. Are the new owners liable to fix it at their cost.

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    August 23, 2019 Graham

    Hi Michael
    My neighbour wants a fence and I am quite prepared to pay my half. However he has a contractor who is says he can guarantee to build it on the boundary and doesn’t need a survey. My neighbour has indicated he is happy with that and will not contribute to a survey. What happens if I get it surveyed after it is built and it is on the wrong line or should I insist on getting it done first?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      August 23, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Graham – it makes no sense to do a survey afterwards – if there is any doubt you should do a survey first – it shouldn’t be expensive

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        October 16, 2019 Delia Bottoms

        My neighbor wants to repair a portion of the boundry fence between our yards. My husband and I want to pay a good neighbor portion towards the cost, but we cannot find the fencing law for Nevada to determine the percentage required for payment. Can you tell us? I even dug through the statues trying to find an answer without any luck.

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          Michael Yardney

          October 16, 2019 Michael Yardney

          HI Delia – I’m based in Australia and have no idea abut USA laws – sorry

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    August 19, 2019 jade

    Hi Michael

    we are currently building and have a retaining wall at the back of our block. the neighbour on the high side of that block has recently completed their house and erected a colour bond fence. we had no consultation on this and the colour is awful.
    I have a few questions.
    should they have consulted us?
    can we paint over our side of the fence seeing as we are going to be constantly looking up at it?
    Do we need permission from them to do this seeing as we haven’t been asked to contribute to the cost of the fence?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      August 19, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Jade – if they erected the fence while you owned your property then yes they should have consulted you – and they could have asked you to pay half.
      Of course you can paint your side of the fence any colour you wish

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    August 18, 2019 Brad

    Thank you Michael for your advise, response and time
    I found his approach very rude and without reason. He has always been arigant but we have maintained a civil relationship
    I approached him for discussion today and he simply said he doesnt care, if i dont fix it he will take me to court as he fully beleives its my responsibility. I said to him does he think the 10, 12 metre high pittasporum sterling trees he planted and then removed plus the leveling of his yard could of contributed to the cracking. He beleives not and is adament it is my responsibility. I guess now I can only wait to be served and take this to mediation, which will probably end unfortunately in a court case. He also adds he is a barister, I feel he trying to intimidate me
    Kind Regards
    Brad

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      August 18, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Clearly he is trying to intimidate you- that’s what barristers do. What a pity. Stand your ground

      Reply

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    August 17, 2019 Brad

    Hi Michael
    I have ssen the good advise you have offered others and wonder if you can offer me any advise on the following situation
    I have lived next door to my neighbours for 20 years, we are both home owners and our houses are 50 years old.
    The issue is the retaining wall which divides our property (fence sits on top of the appro 1 mtr high retaining wall).
    We are on the high side, my neighbour out of the blue today said there are 2 small cracks in the wall, no leaning or other damage, and he will be serving me with a notice to put in a new retaining wall, this week. He also states i am responsible for the full cost of replacing the full 15 metres, plus engineer and surveyer.
    My land is flat with an inground pool which has been there for 30 years, i have not done any work on my yard (there was one soft rooted palm only on our side). He inturn has done a lot of work in his yard. We live in NSW .
    Can you please give me any advise? am i responsible for a new retainer wall? it does not even seem needed. I would be happy to split the cost or if i damaged it pay the full amount. Not sure what to do or where i stand so any advise would be greatly appreciated
    Kind regards
    Brad

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      August 17, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Brad – this seems unfair – being on the high side you should not be responsible for the full cost of any new retaining wall or any repair.
      Why has he done this if you’ve been civil for 20 years.
      Speak to him first – see what’s really going on. If this doesn’t help you’ll be protected if you go to mediation

      Reply

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    August 11, 2019 Kay

    This is a great article!

    We just had a new neighbor move in next door. We have a wooden slat fence dividing the properties. It is old, and will need replacing eventually. However.

    New neighbor instantly demanded a new fence. Instantly declared they would be choosing the type and getting quotes. We said that we agreed to them getting a quote, but would need time to save as we are not financially stable at the moment.

    3 weeks later with no communication. They suddenly engage again, say they need the money this week, and expect us to produce a few thousand immediately. On saying we need time to save, they instantly threatened mediation, to which we said we did not appreciate this sudden threat with no discussion.

    In this sort of situation, what is a reasonable time frame to ask them to allow us to save. While we have been given absolutely no say in fence, price or quotes, we do understand and agree that a new fence needs to be built. Yet we are expected to pay immediately from this stranger. They seem to have no understanding that not everyone is financially in the same boat as they may be. The existing fence has held fine, and could definitely last a couple of months while we saved up to pay.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      August 12, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Kay – this seems very unfair and not a good way to start a new relationship.
      The couple of months you’re requesting sounds very reasonable and is likely to be accepted by a mediator

      Reply

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    August 2, 2019 Arden

    Hi Michael
    Before we move to our own new house last July 2018, we have talked to one of our neighbour about the fence. We had sent our both neighbours a Fencing Notice. One of the neighbour talked to us and requested they will give their share of fencing cost when their house is built and when bank release their money for the fencing as they reasoned that the money is being released stage by stage by their bank. We agreed on that in good faith. After a year, last week we sent them follow up notice thru text message telling them when can they give us a date for their share. I had a talk with the male neighbour and I told him I’m going to send him again the invoice of the fencing cost with their share written on it by the Contractor. He agreed but he never told me definite date to pay. What’s the next thing I can do? I’m worried that they will not pay for their share.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      August 2, 2019 Michael Yardney

      This is difficult – you’d don’t really want to start a relationship with your new neighbour on bad footing. Before seeking legal action, I would speak with them face to face and remind them that you’ve been more than fair and you’ve been out of pocket – appeal to them asking to be fair – if not then you’ll need to get firmer

      Reply

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    July 27, 2019 Lester

    Hi Michael,
    we have just finished building our dream home in country SA and have moved in. We have 2 boundary surveys by 2 different companies and know where our boundary lies. Both surveys show the same boundary. We recently have had new neighbours who are thinking of building. They asked us for our boundary survey but we were reluctant to give it to them since we had paid quite a bit for it. They have since employed their own surveyor (who looked very new to the game) and he claimed that the boundary is where an old sheep fence was. This sheep fence while close to boundary is not the boundary. It was placed there for convenience since the boundary is in a valley which is always wet and is a drain. If the new survey says that old fence is now the boundary we will have to move our meter box which was installed right on the boundary. We will lose 30-50cm along the boundary. I know this doesn’t seem like much when in the country but it will affect whether we need to move our meter box plus costs associated with that. Our driveway, which we put in, also hits the boundary and we will also have to move our driveway. We did show the new surveyor our boundary survey to help him out but we didn’t give it to him. What should our next step be?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      July 27, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Have a sensible discussion with your neighbour as well as asking why he didn’trust your surveyor?

      Reply

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    July 24, 2019 Gashi

    Hi Michael
    we built our new home in NSW and contacted the neighboring land owners to organise the fencing. We have three adjoining lands and two of them belongs to an developing company. when we talked to the director he said that he doesn’t want to share the cost as he is on a plan to sell the vacant lands sometime soon (they still don’t have buyers). Even he doesn’t want to contribute, he said we can’t put up a colourbond fence (which is the cheaper option currently we have and other neighbor also agreed) and he wants a timber fence on their sides. he claimed that he can provide a timber fence for the same price. As we don’t have a choice and we didn’t want to develop an argument we agreed to the timber fence and request the quote which he mentioned about. All these conversations were happened on over the phone (we send all over responses via emails too) and now he is not providing a timber fencing quote or doesn’t provide any written responses. Our new home situated in a area where lots of housing constructions are ongoing and we don’t have any privacy and security. we see large trucks turning on neighboring vacant land close to our home and sometime we see large truck wheel prints on our front yard when we get back home in the afternoon. Can we at least build the fence by ourselves (without their share) in NSW? as he doesn’t give any permission to build the fence we are worrying that if he get legal actions against us for that? At this stage we don’t care about his share, but don’t know what to do

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      July 24, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Gashi – I understand your dilemma. I would advise him that you are going to erect the fnece at your expense and that it will make the land he plans to sell more valuable and give him 14 days to respond.

      Reply

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    July 22, 2019 Nick

    Hi Michael,
    Thanks very much for sharing your advises on this thread. I got a further question:
    My neighbor approached for a new fence and provided a survey with his own estimation of the location of the existing fence that encroached his land.I refused to accept his claims since the location was his own estimation from the draft that was not legally valid for the purpose. Now, he provided another survey done by the certified surveyor in which the total encroachment was less than what he originally claimed. However, he requested me to pay for the cost of the new survey because I rejected his original claim.

    Is his demand legally valid in this case?

    Many thanks for your comments on this.

    Nick

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      July 22, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Nick – if you were going to build a fence it seems only fair that both of you share in ALL the costs of getting it right

      Reply

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    July 17, 2019 Phillip Fry

    your final solution is to just give up and pay for it myself? so what if my neighbour destroys that fence too? he put a huge hole in my fence. if i admit defeat and pay for a new one myself and he destroys that too, what then?

    Reply

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    July 13, 2019 Michael Hope

    Hi Michael,
    I have a frustrating fence situation with my neighbor. We have a really long fence dividing our properties. We agreed that we would build half the fence and then when he had money, he could build the other half. We built our half and put the pretty side facing his house. It was 5 years and he hadn’t put his half of the fence up yet – then he had a tree cut down that was straddling our properties (the old chain link fence was growing through the tree). It left a 6 foot wide hole in the middle of the fence – and he was too cheap to have the stump removed so we were left with a hole and stump. He said he planned to put up the fence but in the meantime, he would lean an old piece of scrap plywood over the hole. Fast forward 6 months. I woke up to construction in the backyard last weekend – with no warning. He was having the fence put up. We were so happy – at long last! We noticed that they were plugging right along building the fence, but they hadn’t done anything with the chain link fence. That’s when we noticed that he moved the fence line inside his property about 6 inches, leaving our side with the old chain link fence, the hole and the stump! To make matters worse, he used recycled wood for the frame of the fence (different colors of scrap wood) and put the pretty side on his own property – with all nice looking uniformed wood. I honestly can’t believe it. We have been so patient and flexible – we lived with that horrible fence for so long. Did I mention that he doesn’t keep up his backyard? We do. What legal recourse do we have?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      July 14, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Michael – you have been patient – what he’s done doesn’t sound fair – it’s time to step up your game and a starting point could be an outside mediator – such as Victoria’s Department of Justice Dispute Settlement Cent or approaching your solicitor

      Reply

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    July 4, 2019 Tarnya

    Hi Michael. We commissioned a structural engineer who provided us with a report to say that our dividing fence failed due to incorrect construction and lack of drainage on behalf of our neighbour. Our neighbour has now rebuilt the fence. However the construction has caused $16,000 worth of damage to our courtyard. Our neighbour has refused to pay. Which legal avenue should be go through? We are in Qld however I’m not sure that QCAT hears disputes relating to property damage (only dividing fences). Thanks!

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      July 4, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Sorry to hear that Tarnya – that is a significant amount of money. I would start by briefing a solicitor and get him to make your cliam with your neighbour – steer clear of the courts if you can avoid it.

      Reply

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    June 20, 2019 Barbara Timmermans

    Hi Michael. My neighbour and I have an intervention order against each other. In court on the day of the order, he agreed to a new fence as the existing fence is rotted and about to fall over. The judge said for my husband to take the quote over there. We decided to send the quote via registered mail with a tracking number. He did receive the quote, but will not respond. The intervention order is for 2 years and the fence is in need of urgent repairs before it falls over and he’s a difficult stubborn person. My husband has MS and is not in good health. I have to do everything and I’m stressed. What can I do please?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      June 20, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Barbara – sorry to hear of your plight – this now requires a solicitor’s intervention

      Reply

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    May 10, 2019 Van

    Hello Michael,
    I’m wondering, do I have to pay for the fence in case I’m a owner of the land however I want to sell the land in a near future as we don’t want to build there. I’ve received a fencing notice from my neighbour..What options do I have?

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      May 10, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Sorry, but I believe you must pay – but it will add value to your property

      Reply

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    May 10, 2019 DK

    I lived in NSW, my neighbour and I has a low dividing fence, is he allow to build a higher eg.1800mm high fence entirely on his side of the boundary, in any form of construction, shape and colour, if it is in compliant with council regulation? Eg, a pink colour fence that can be seen from my side?
    Thanks for your advice in advance!

    Reply

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    May 7, 2019 Linda

    HI Michael,
    We paid our deposit for our fence back in February, and a day later our neighbour advised that we needed to wait for their retaining wall to be built before the fence can be constructed. We have patiently waited 3 months now for this to be done. Now that the retaining wall has been completed, we have asked if we can now go ahead and have the fence constructed. They have now advised that we need to wait for their bricks and site clean to be completed which will be another 4 weeks. This will mean we would have been in our house for 4 months without a side fence, with our backyard clearly visible from the street behind. What can we do in this situation?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      May 7, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Sorry to hear about your plight, but I’m not sure that there is anything you can do other than wait that little extra

      Reply

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    May 4, 2019 Nick

    Hi Michael, I recently purchased a block of land (resale) on the Sunshine Coast, QLD. A neighbour on one side had fenced his boundary prior to my purchase. Recently, I was on my property with my builder, when the neighbour introduced himself to me and immediately ask for my payment for the fence. Taking into consideration that the land I purchased was already fenced on one side and that I have had no consultation into it being placed there. I politely let the NEW neighbour know this. How am I to know if the previous owners of the land have’nt contributed to their financial input? Where do I stand with this situation?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      May 4, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Nick – there is no requirement for you to pay if this occurred prior to your purchase

      Reply

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    April 29, 2019 VM

    Hi,
    I have build a new home and its ready to occupy. Only thins pending is landscaping and driveway. Due to the hilly area the houses are in slope and so there is a gap between each house. My neighbour’s builder is building a house which might take 2-3 months to complete. My landscape contractor told me that I need a retaining wall or at least a sleepers so that soils / sand doesnt fall on my turf or damage it. Neighbour’s builder doesn’t want to build any retaining wall now or even commit but until then I am stuck. He wants to wait unitl he is ready to commence work on fencing. Can I build the retaining wall to support the fence and get it legally from them later? Landscaping is critical as I also need to build steps to enter the property which is at 3-4 steps height?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      April 29, 2019 Michael Yardney

      VM – sorry – retaining walls are your responsibility – you cannot claim this from your neighbour

      Reply

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    April 9, 2019 Colin Clarke

    Hi Michael,

    Our neighbour is being difficult, we came to him last year around November to put up a new fence on the back LHS of the property. He agreed to pay half, as long as we got the boundry line marked out. I left that up to him to sort out and we would pay half the cost of the survey. I found out in February/March this year that he has had a quote for the survey to be done and also given the contact details for this quote by his lawyer since November last year and he has done nothing with it.

    I have presented him with 3 quotes and he is not happy and wants 2 more. I told him if he wants 2 more quotes he can chase this himself, otherwise we will be going with the cheapest one out of the 3 I gave him.

    Can I start construction on the new fence now, after giving him the 3 quotes?
    ! of the quotes is from Last year so the price may have changed since then, but the 2 other quotes I have are from this month. One is an estimate, but it does give an insight to the true costs of the fencing work.
    Do I need to serve him a fencing notice or can I just start the work, now that I have shown him these quotes?

    I have had to do all the work in finding a fencing contractor and I even found a surveyor as well because he sat on his hands, and he has done nothing except making things difficult.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      April 9, 2019 Michael Yardney

      As you’ve clearly got a difficult neighbour please get your solicitor’s advice to ensure you protect yourself

      Reply

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        April 10, 2019 Colin Clarke

        Hi Michael,
        Thank you for your reply, I didn’t want it to come to lawyers, but it looks like it might have to.

        Is there a law as to how many quotes I need to provide?

        Once again, thank you for your time.

        Reply

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    April 3, 2019 Daniealla

    Hi Micahel,
    My neighbour has a dilapidated garage on the boundary of our properties. I built on my property and the neighbour insisted that the damage was caused from the build and it ended up a nasty legal dispute. I have spent a lot of money in legal expesnes defending myself and through extensive Engineer’s Report it was ascertained that the damage to their garage was through faulty footings, their tree root implications and just poor build of their garage in general. Now they have recieved a building order from the Council to rebuild and the new garage will not be built on the boundary. They now would like me to pay half the fence cost for a new fence where the garage would have been. I simply do not have the money to pay for this as my funds have been exhausted through all the legal expenses. What are my options?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      April 3, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Daniella, this is very unfortunate. However it is your obligation to pay for half the fence – if it is only for the length of where a garage would be be so expensive should it? You will

      Reply

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    April 2, 2019 Juan

    Hello, We just had a survey for our land and as a result we know where our true title boundary is. On the LHS our neighbor wants to re-build the fence as it is damaged. We told him that after looking at the survey, our land goes into his current property about 282mm, so our land overlaps with his. We are building a new house and the builder told us that by law we need to build within the true boundary, not the ‘as is’ one.
    We have a wall that will run just over 4500mm long, 200mm from the true boundary. Problem is that the current fence is in the middle and at some point is crossing that wall. We asked the neighbor he can keep the fence where currently is for the whole length of the house except for those 4500mm of wall where he would have to push back the fence towards his property around 150mm for us to be able to build that wall, (1 storey wall).
    He does not want to take our proposal and wants to go all the way to fight it so he can keep it where it is, but our builder told us that they will build as per plan, thus as per law.
    I am worry they can bring a claim for the fence as adverse possession. The neighbour has been living there for more than 20 years, but we moved here about 14 years ago. They can claim adverse possession if they have continuously occupied my land for more than 15 years, right? They requested the surveyor certificate from us for them to see (via email) Would the survey done recently stop any adverse possession claim as they are now aware of our intentions to build a house a year before reaching 15?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      April 3, 2019 Michael Yardney

      There is no reason not to show him the survey – it may quieten your neighbour – his land is still the size it always was – maybe not in exactly the same spot.
      As for the adverse possession case – you should ask a lawyer

      Reply

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    February 25, 2019 Ross

    This is not a question about fencing, it’s about the retaining wall that fence sits on. When townhouses were built next door to me, a retaining wall was built to level the neighbour’s block. It has started to fall over to my side, in spots where the wall is highest about 1 metre high, the lean is now about 30cm or more is some spots. When I was helping a neighbour dig up some trees along the fence, we found that his landscapers had installed the retaining wall without concrete footings (about 12 years ago). As a result, the weight of the soil built up on his side is pushing the wall over on my side. Do the same rules for fences apply to my situation, since I believe the problems arise from their landscapers poor workmanship? Am I liable for half the cost of repairs or is it the responsibility of the strata next door? Thank you.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      February 25, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Ross – I’m not a lawyer, even though I know a little bit about this area, and I would suggest that if the retaining wall was built to ” retain” soil et cetera on the neighbouring block because it is built higher than yours, then this is the responsibility of the neighbours.

      Reply

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      March 1, 2019 Julie Whicker

      Hi. My colorbond fence is leaning over quite a bit towards the neighbours. I appriached him today and I said I think the trellis vine is contributing. He disagreed saying there was no weight in it. I then said can we put extra posts in your side to straighten it up. At first he said yes, then 5 minutes later said no. He said put the posts in your side. By doing that will not help push the fence back and keep it line. He has a retaining wall on his side also contributing to the shift in the land. I then said we would have to cut a wedge at the base on our side, push over then reweld.
      He said no. So I then said take your vine hooks off the top of the fence, so he got a ladder and came onto our property to do that. He is 85. Then he starts telling me my driveway which is a battleaxe is common access land. I was shocked. It is totally within our boundaries and our deveway only accesses my property. I later checked our plans and rang the council to confirm my driveway is not common land.
      So I rang my brother who is a fencer and he said don’t worry he will come and fix it.
      I’m not asking for any money off the 85 year old but because the fence is what I consider our frontage I want it to look well maintained and not falling over.
      Can my brother straighten it by cut and weld.
      We did this to a gatepost already embedded into a concrete path and had no problems.

      Reply

        Michael Yardney

        March 1, 2019 Michael Yardney

        I can’t really advise you without seeing your property. I see no reason why your brother shouldn’t fix it

        Reply

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    February 4, 2019 Charl

    Hi Michael,

    We bought our house around 10months ago, and if I’d known the neighbours were going to be this noisy would have stayed far away… Given property downturn I cannot really sell only 10 months in. Our neighbour’s property is filled and he has a 2m retaining wall which he has advised is all on his property. We have asked the to build a fence on top of this to block noise, however they do not want to.

    Is there anything I can do as effectively we have no fence between us, only a retaining wall, however given it’s all on the neighbour’s property it appears I cannot force him to do anything. Given also the 1,8m height regulation in QLD any fence I erect on my side will be lower than the existing retaining wall…

    Are there any options open to us?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      February 5, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Charl – I can’t really visualise what you’re describing, but if you can’t build a higher fence why not plant some mature trees that should block out the sound

      Reply

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    January 28, 2019 John BOURKE

    Michael,
    After both agreeing to build a 9.5m colorbond fence, plus my neighbor wanting me to renew a 6m section 900mm high retaining wall which the fence was partly built on top. we both found the old fence had been wrongly built on top of this retaining wall which is around 80cm inside my property. This currently affects losing that distance by 24m long, and I am concerned about selling with knowing it now has a reduced land size.
    As this is a large piece of my land, I have e-mailed and advised him I wanted to pull it down and rebuild the Color bond fence with the existing material on it’s the boundary.
    My neighbors had a small gate built and it gives him further access into his back yard.
    I want to know if I can pull down the fence, and have it rebuilt correctly on the true boundary?
    It seemed the retaining wall and old fence was originally built wrongly when both houses were constructed, 20 years ago, as we just replaced everything where it was.
    Have I the right to pull it down seeing it’s on my land ?
    I have e-mailed my neighbor advising I was going to pull the fence down, and for him to to call in and discuss how to proceed with the matter, as he is very difficult young man to deal with, and I am in my 70’s and has always been difficult previously over a number of minor problems, e.g. like when asking him to trim a bush on our boundary, that is blocking my view of roadway when exiting my garage, which he advised by e-mail NO!
    He hasn’t replied to my e-mail as yet, and I honestly don’t believe the cost to rebuild the fence will be expensive, seeing all the colorbond material is reusable, and we may require just some new upright posts, so mostly labor cost.
    I was going to get a quote for the rebuild, but am concerned with him having a small gate he paid for currently securing the access to this walkway.
    I am totally restricted with having to be the sole full time carer to my seriously ill wife, with Parkinson’s PSP and arranging conciliation or similar would be very difficult for me to attend.
    I probably would be prepared to pay for the rebuild if necessary, but have not offered at this stage, if he becomes stubborn, I probably may be able to have my daughter represent me if required to go to conciliation?
    I was considering ringing our Council and discuss the matter, is that wise at this stage?
    Appreciate any advice and guidance.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      January 28, 2019 Michael Yardney

      This is an important decision, as you may end up losing some land if the fence remains in the wrong spot.
      I would first get a survey to find out exactly where the boundary is – then you’ll have more ammunition.
      It may then be worth get a solicitor to give you an opinion as well as write a letter that may stir your neighbour into action

      Reply

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    January 17, 2019 Alisha

    Hi Michael,

    I have a broken fence between myself and my neighbour’s property. The construction is poor and I am concerned it will just break again. If I have proposed by official notice that I will pay for 100% of the costs for a brand new fence, how much control does my neighbour have over the design of the fence? I have agreed to her height requests but she is being very difficult about the colour.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Regards,

    Alisha
    (South Australia)

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      January 17, 2019 Michael Yardney

      The neighbour has a right to have a say which colour is on their side, but if they don’t like the colour you’ve selected then they’ll have to pay their share.
      It’s a sort of democracy – you both have a say and hopefully will come to an agreement

      Reply

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    December 5, 2018 Moveen Mudaliar

    Hi Michael. I have a situation where I’m in the process of a knockdown and build. During our demo we removed an old brick fence that backed onto our neighbours brick fence which is also part of their pool fence. When we removed our fence we found that their fence was sitting on a suspended slab. This slab is also their pool deck. The slab has concrete cancer throughout it and the single leaf brick wall has crack through it. There is timber supporting structure under the slab that has been eaten away by termites and there are several termite mounds visible. I believe that this wall is unsafe and could come down without notice causing severe injury or or death. Neighbor has indicated that he is not going to do anything due to budget constraints. Has indicated that he will be getting a survey consultant to look inspect it notify if it it safe. He has not given a timeline. I have spoken to council and they say it is a civil matter. What are my options here.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      December 5, 2018 Michael Yardney

      Moveen – you are clearly in a difficult situation – but the council ahs given you the right answer – see if you can resolve the matter and if not get your solicitor involved to speed things up

      Reply

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    December 2, 2018 Zoe

    Without warning Our neighbour pulled up our chainlink fence and posts, picked it up and pushed it onto our land and tied it to our trees. He then excavated a heap of earth (from our side of the boundry as well as his) and built a retaining wall 2/3 of the way along the fence line but not the rest. He has not backfilled on our side of the retaining wall and there is a 1m drop where he has not built anything. He said the existing fence was to be put back up on top of the retaining wall or we have to pay for an upgrade. We just want the fence fixed but nothing has happened for years. We don’t have a secure yard and he refuses to fix and we don’t have any earth to put the fence up on the boundry as he dug it out! Whats our best option?

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      December 2, 2018 Michael Yardney

      Zoe – am I right in understanding this happened “years” ago?
      My suggestion is to try and speak with your neighbour first rather than escalating the matter. if you don’t get anywhere go the the council because they should make him fix the 1 mt drop

      Reply

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    November 16, 2018 Jess

    Our neighbour approached us to replace the fence. Told us to get a quote, they agreed to the quote. We replaced the fence. Went to collect money, they now say they don’t have money and never wanted a fence. All in the space of 3 weeks…This is in NSW.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      November 16, 2018 Michael Yardney

      Approve – you have the fencing Act on your side – they have to pay their half of a normal fence – but the trouble is you’ll have to get the money out of them. Real pity

      Reply

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    October 31, 2018 sharron

    Hi, we recently purchased a property and after 6 months the neighbour approached us about replacing the fence. It is a wooden fence with palings, I don’t know how old it is, however structurally sound with the posts, rails and most of the palings. The neighbour had a lot of trees overhanging the fence and over the years seem to be the cause of the cosmetic damage. He came up with a solution to remove the palings (which are on his side) and replace with corrugated iron that he has had laying around for a number of years, and was already second hand. We asked how much would it cost to put on a couple of times and were told not much, just the cost of the rivets. Within the next couple of days the palings were taken off and replaced with the tin. We then receive a bill for $975 which seems rather excessive and no details of what it relates to. No posts or rails were removed, just the palings and purely for cosmetic purposes. I am going to approach the neighbour but wanted to understand our position being that they have removed the palings on their side and replaced with old tin they already had.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      October 31, 2018 Michael Yardney

      If you didn’t agree to these works he’ll be hard pressed to pursue you for them – your obligation is to pay for your half of a paling fence – but not need to pay for replacement if simple repairs will suffice

      Reply

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    October 30, 2018 Kush

    Hi Michael,
    My neighbour has just started building his house and builder want to remove the side fence in order to put the slab. He also want to remove part of my retaining wall in the front garden. The time frame given is 6 months which is too long. Is there anyway I can say “No” to the builder or I have no option and accept it? Any points to consider before they go ahead and do it? Kindly help. Thanks

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      October 30, 2018 Michael Yardney

      Kush – you’re right 6 months seems a long time, but you can’t really hold up the construction.
      Ask why it takes so long and take plenty of before photos so they leave things in the same condition or better on completion

      Reply

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        January 15, 2019 Marion Wood

        Take lots of photos in relation to the boundary.
        I’ve had the unpleasant experience of neighbors removing a well built fence that stood for well over the 15 years that could have been repaired.They excavated for a retaining wall without advising that it was a requirement to build nor did they obtain a permit until I complained to Local Council. They are now disputing the boundary.They also we’re very reluctant to supply me with written quote for the new fence.Take care !!

        Reply

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    September 27, 2018 allstonelandscapes

    Thanks for sharing..

    Reply

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    August 21, 2018 jon

    Hi Michael it was great to read your thoughts on this issue,
    what or were do we stand if we want to put a fence up to separating two properties that currently dosnt have one, and the other home owner dosnt want one , we would even do it at our cost, we are in rural land in QLD,
    Do we have a right to protect our property and land?
    cheers Jon

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      August 22, 2018 Michael Yardney

      Jon Of course you have a rigth to protect your property and land – however the type of fence you can build may be different in rural QLD. I suggest you ask your local council

      Reply

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    July 19, 2018 Anne khaya

    Neigbour removed dividing fence 6 months ago. Has run stormwater on my land and built a retaining wall on my land. Now refuses to replace fence where it was. He thinks the fence should be moved further into land. Not interested in paying for anything. He has said he will pull the fence down if i replace it where it was. Nobody seems able to help me.

    Reply

      Michael Yardney

      July 19, 2018 Michael Yardney

      Anne – if the neighbour is not willing to be reasonable you really must see a solicitor to protect your interests

      Reply


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