When sharing the cost of a dividing fence with your neighbour, is it possible to approach the topic and get the desirable outcome you need? Dividing fences are one of the most common causes of disputes between neighbours. But, to quote the lyrics of a good old Aussie TV soaps’ theme song, “Everybody needs good neighbours. With a little understanding, you can find the perfect blend”. So, when it comes to disputing over who’s footing the bill for a new fence, how can you ensure you find the perfect blend between keeping the peace with your boundary buddy and evenly sharing the costs?
First and foremost, understanding your rights is vital. In Queensland for example, the governing body of QCAT is available to resolve any outstanding disputes but hopefully for your sake, it won’t have to come to that. So, we’ve put together a few helpful pointers that should help you along the way.
The 4 Steps To Get Your Neighbour To Share The Cost Of A Dividing Fence
Step 1 : Have a chat to your neighbour
As we said, dividing fences are one of the most common causes of disputes between neighbours. And generally, people often disagree over who pays for the building and upkeep of the fence, or the type of fence needed. So, we suggest you have a laid back initial chat with your neighbour about your intentions and gauge what their thoughts & input is on the matter. At least this way you are sewing the seed for them, giving them a little time to process your intentions before you issue them with a fencing quote and your notice! Your priority here is to keep your neighbour in the loop throughout the whole process and hopefully this will help to keep them on your good side!
Step 2 : Give Notice To Your Neighbour
You should give your neighbour a letter telling them about the fence, how it will be built and the estimated cost— including their contribution. This is called a notice to fence. Keep a copy of the letter and note when & where you issued it to them. When you give it to them, try and make sure you give it to them in person. Face to face is always the friendliest way.
Step 3 : Get Quotes to give alongside your “Notice To Fence”
You must obtain at least one quote, but as a matter of courtesy you should supply two. Once you present these quotes to your neighbour, if they think the quotes are too high, encourage them to obtain their own quote as a comparison.
Step 4 : Who Pays?!
The good news for you is that as a rule of thumb – each neighbour is liable for half the cost of fencing work. However, where one neighbour wants more work done than is necessary for a ‘sufficient dividing fence’ they pay the extra cost. For example, if your neighbour needs a higher fence to keep their dog from getting out, they should pay the extra cost. Or they should at least provide extra materials and labour to build the fence beyond sufficient height.
Do you need approval to build a fence?
Building and planning approvals are not generally needed for a proposed front, side or rear boundary fence. This is providing the fence meets all of the following requirements:
- It is associated with a dwelling house (or other residential use).
- The fence is less than two metres high.
- Building approval is required for any fence that is higher than 2metres above the natural ground level.
- It is not associated with a swimming pool (swimming pool fences have their own requirements).
- Your fence is not part of a retaining wall.
- It would not restrict water run-off from adjoining properties.
Some basic rules for dividing fences that you probably should know
- There should be ‘sufficient’ dividing fences between properties. If an adjoining owner requests one—even if one or both pieces of land are empty. (A dividing fence means a fence on the common boundary of adjoining lands.)
- Usually neighbours must contribute equally to the cost of building and maintaining a dividing fence.
- You should not attach anything to a dividing fence that could damage it.
- In most cases, issues about dividing fences need to be solved by the owners of the properties. If you are a tenant, unless you have a long-term lease on the land, you should refer queries over a dividing fence to the property owner or agent.
Your legal rights concerning a fence between your neighbours and your land which are covered by The Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011 . For more information from the Brisbane City Council about residential fences.
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