Our Professional Advice

Because we share boundaries with our neighbours, they need to be consulted and agreement reached about boundary fencing. If you are completely enclosing your property, this may involve discussions with three or more adjoining neighbours.

If you are considering new fencing, or major repairs to an existing boundary fence, the first step is to discuss the matter with your neighbour(s) and try to come to an agreement about the type of fence, the costs involved and the share of such costs. You might also have to "negotiate" which side of the fence faces which property, or decide on a fence which is similar in appearance on both sides. If you are completely enclosing your property, you'll also have to try to get all of your neighbours agreeing on the same fence.

Your proposed fence must also of course comply with your local authority bylaws.

You will also have to agree exactly where the boundary is. That's easy if there are visible boundary pegs. Otherwise you have the options of having a new survey done, or just mutually agreeing on the line of the fence. (Where there are no boundary pegs, Fencemate requires a boundary peg waiver form signed by both parties).

The Fencing Act 1978 states that neighbours can be required to contribute equally to the cost of an "adequate" boundary fence, or to the cost of restoring a fence to an "adequate" condition. The act gives examples of what may be deemed to be an "adequate" fence in either urban or rural situations. This means that a neighbour can not be expected to contribute to the full costs of building or repairing a fence which is unnecessarily elaborate or expensive. In the latter case you may have to contribute more than half, if that is the fence you require.

To avoid misunderstandings, it is a good idea to summarise the agreement in writing, signed by all parties.

In the event of a disagreement or dispute that can not be resolved, the next step is to serve a Fencing Notice, setting out details of the fence you would like built and an estimate of its cost. This brings the dispute under the Fencing Act and imposes certain obligations and procedures on the parties for the purposes of bringing the matter to a resolution. If matters go this far you should seek professional advice from your lawyer. Disputes involving costs of up to $7,500 can be taken to the Disputes Tribunal for resolution. Larger claims are heard by the District Court.

If you want to proceed without going through the legal process to extract a share of costs from your neighbour, you are perfectly entitled to erect the fence of your choice inside your own property boundaries (make sure you know exactly where they are) at your own expense. However you may still need to get permission from your neighbour to access their property during construction.

In the majority of cases, an amicable agreement can be reached, with all parties feeling good about the proposal and the benefits and value an attractive fence will add to their properties.

Fencemate will be pleased to offer whatever advice or assistance is possible. The information given above is of necessity general in nature and is intended only as a guideline. It should not be construed as, nor replace, professional legal advice in any given circumstance.


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