It’s a common question that often leaves many of us scratching our heads. When a fence runs between two properties, who owns it?
In most states, if you and your neighbour are both owner-occupiers, you share equal responsibility for the diving fence on your land. This means you pay an equal share of the cost of a “sufficient” fence. The definition of sufficient differs from state to state.
In Queensland, a sufficient dividing fence is between 0.5m to 1.8m high and constructed mainly of prescribed material such as wood, chain wire, bricks, rendered cement, vegetation, or colourbond. If you want to go higher or construct a fence with other unusual material, it’s best to check with your local council first as restrictions vary from area to area. If one party wants a higher or more extravagant fence than their neighbour, they are usually responsible for making up the difference of the costs.
Fences come in all shapes and sizes, and many peoples’ definition of a fence will vary to anothers. Make sure you are aware of your states policies before you issue or respond to a fencing notice. Basic rules for dividing fences:
1. There should be a ‘sufficient’ dividing fence between properties if an adjoining owner requests one – even if one or both pieces of land are empty.
2. Usually neighbours must contribute equally to the cost of the construction and maintenance of a dividing fence.
3. You should not attach anything to a diving fence that could damage it.
4. 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 diving fence to the property owner or agent.
A new fence can add instant street appeal to the overall look of your house and garden. But your relationship with your neighbours is also important. Chat to your neighbours about your desires before you issue a fencing notice. Issuing a notice before discussing a new fence with your neighbours can often lead to the beginning of a dispute.
QCAT (Queensland Civil Administrative Tribunal) can help resolve neighbourhood fence disputes – valued up to and including $25,000. QCAT can make a legally enforceable decision on the matter. Going to QCAT should be seen as a last resort however. It’s much better if you can resolve the problem together and stay on good terms with your neighbour.