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Fences & Boundaries

There are legal processes in every state (see links below) regarding the position and construction of boundary fences. State legislation and local planning laws cover all aspects of fencing and boundaries, so before you get into an argument with your neighbour about fences it is best to inform yourself about the rules to avoid problems. There are a lot of urban myths regarding the construction of fences and they cause no end of confusion and aggravation - it seems that the minute you decide to build a fence every man and his dog become experts in what can and can't be built and who pays - 99% of it is absolute rubbish and/or dates back to laws that predate federation. A common myth is (and I have stated this elsewhere on this site) 'if I build a fence [place made up distance here] inside my boundary, I can build it out of [place made up materials here] and it can be [place made up height here] meters high if I want to, and you can't stop me!' WRONG – Our NFH actually did this, out of spite they built a 50 meter long second hand tin (tin they scrounged from a junk heap) fence that was over 4 meters high in some places, two meters inside their boundary, it would have looked out of place in a third world slum and yes the council made them pull it down. The funny (dysfunctional) thing was that they had previously fought us for over a year - and lost - to construct a simple wire boundary fence (we are rural residential) on the basis that “we don't want a fence, we dont need a fence” which was, it turns out, NFH speak for “we don’t want to pay for our share of a fence”.


NSW boundary fences are covered by the Dividing Fences Act of 1991, it covers all the legal requirements regarding the construction of boundary fences and who is responsible for costs, what type, access to property etc. The other consideration is your local council, the planning regulations will have specific guidelines for things like height and construction requirments, so check with them to get information regarding the processes you need to follow.


In NSW (and check in other states because it is probably similar) whatever you do DO NOT go ahead and build or replace a boundary fence without having a signed agreement with the owner of the adjoining property, if you do they will probably have no obligation to contribute to the cost and could possibly obtain permission to have the structure removed and replaced, with you footing the bill for the removal and half the cost of the replacement. Also it is worth noting that in NSW if the neighbour refuses to contribute or you are unable to agree about the fence and when mediation fails you can contact the court or the Local Area Land Board and start the process of obtaining an Order to Fence, check with the relevant authorities before you go the local court or you may find that when it comes up for hearing in the court they will send you to the land board anyway and the whole process takes months - as it is the land board will probably take several months before you get a hearing.

 

Helpful Links

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NSW

NSW Dividing Fences Act 1991
NSW Example of a Fencing Notice PDF
NSW Dividing Fences Law Info Sheet PDF
Neighbours and the Law
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Queensland

Qld. DIVIDING FENCES ACT 1953
Qld. Example of Notice for Contribution to Fencing Work PDF
Qld. Neighbourhood Fencing Disputes Containing Troubles PDF
Qld. Boundaries and easements
Qld. Fences and retaining walls
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Victoria

Neighbours, the Law and You PDF provides helpful legal information on many common problems that can lead to neighbourhood disputes. It covers issues on land and building use, fences, trees, noise, nuisance and animals.
Vic. FENCES ACT 1968
Vic. Example of Notice to Fence PDF
Vic. Fencing Quickguide

Victorian Building Regulations 2006

SECT 426 Fences on or within 150mm of side or rear boundaries
SECT 427 Fences on street alignments
SECT 428 Fences and daylight to windows in existing dwelling
SECT 429 Fences and solar access to existing north-facing habitable room windows
SECT 430 Fences and overshadowing of recreational private open space
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Tasmania

Tas. BOUNDARY FENCES ACT 1908
Tas. Boundary Fences Fact Sheet
Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania Self Help Kit Boundary Fences PDF
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South Australia

S.A. FENCES ACT 1975
S.A. Law Handbook Online - FENCES
S.A. Notice of Intention to Erect a Fence PDF
S.A. Notice of Intention to Perform Replacement, Repair or Maintenance Work PDF
S.A. Cross-Notice (NOTICE OF OBJECTION) PDF
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Northern Territory

N.T. FENCES ACT
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Australian Capital Territory

COMMON BOUNDARIES ACT 1981
COMMON BOUNDARIES ACT 1981 - SECT 2
Residential Boundary Fences PDF
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Western Australia

W.A. DIVIDING FENCES ACT 1961
BUILDING INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT - Dividing Fences
BUILDING INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT - Resolving Disputes
Legal Aid Western Australia - Dividing fences and other boundary issues
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