Who needs to pay for a fence dividing properties?

Published 17 Oct 2017

The physical lines separating your property from your neighbour's might be clear, but the answer as to who has to pay for a dividing fence is sometimes not. Since technically the fence is owned jointly by both you and your neighbour, some sort of split of the price is usually arranged - there are, however, extenuating circumstances that can change this.

Let's look at the legality of fence splitting in New South Wales (NSW) and figure out what the best steps to take are if you can't work it out with your neighbour and end up in a property dispute.

When is a fence cost split, and when does one party have to pay?

If you have a fence or wall between properties that is run down and needs replacing, you and your neighbour can talk and decide on what would be a 'sufficient dividing fence', then split the cost. According to the NSW government, the definition of a sufficient fence depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • if there's an existing fence, and what type it is;
  • what the land is used for;
  • the privacy of both parties;
  • the requirements of your local council.

On the other hand, if your fence is still in good shape, you might not have the right to ask your neighbour to pay for half of it. In this case, or if the fence you want to buy is considered 'more than sufficient' given the criteria above, you may have to pay more than half the price.

If the neighbour damages the fence between your properties, especially if their side of it backs up to a swimming pool, they will be expected to pay the full cost of fixing it.

What do I do if my neighbour and I can't agree?

In most cases, neighbours who are civil with one another are able to work out an agreement in which the building cost is split. However, there are some cases in which neither party can agree on what constitutes a 'sufficient dividing fence' and the issue becomes more serious.

If you find yourself in such a case, the first step is to file a Fencing Notice - if, after one month, the issue has not been resolved, you can lodge an application to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). There will be a conciliation process - in which you'll hopefully be able to work things out - after which there will be a hearing if the matter persists.

In such cases, it might make sense to seek the advice of a Parramatta property lawyer. For more information, reach out to a representative at Malouf Solicitors today.

Please call us on 02 8833 2000 to speak with a lawyer

I would just like to say thank you to Anthony who assisted my son in his matter. He is a first home buyer and was pressured into signing a contract prior to obtaining legal advice. The contract was certainly was not the normal straight forward type. To be able to obtain the help and assistance he did from Anthony and rescind the offer the next day, was wonderful. We were able to have a stress free Christmas. I am unable to thank him enough for this. My son and our family will be contacting Anthony when we find the next property.
Kim of Sydney

Parramatta Office:

Level 5/146 Marsden Street
Parramatta NSW 2124

PO Box 945
Parramatta NSW 2124

Phone: 02 8833 2000
Fax: 02 9687 3697

mail@maloufsolicitors.com.au