The big problem that’s dividing Australian neighbourhoods 26



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A record number of home owners have been having legal disputes with their neighbours over this big problem…have you?

The Legal Services Commission have revealed that there has been a 77 per cent increase in the last year of people seeking online advice on how to manage fencing feuds. That’s right: fencing feuds

Across Australia, neighbours have been battling about their fences and their rights.

The Commission’s fences web page had 45,714 page views in 2014/15, compared with 25,887 in 2013/14, the highest ranking of neighbourhood problems raised with the free service.

Chris Bounday, Commission manager of access services,  said fencing issues have always existed but the surge in queries was shocking.

“With property boundaries getting closer … we are seeing increased demand for our advice,” he said.

“Sometimes it’s in suburbs where there are large new property developments, but requests also come from more established areas in which blocks are being subdivided.

“We are a nation of renovators — and that can cause problems when it relates to property boundaries.

“The demand for fencing advice is quite staggering and shows no sign of letting up”.

Solicitor of the Central Community Legal Service, Alan Merritt, puts it down to neighbours just exercising their rights.

“Generally if someone is subdividing and developing and improving it should be their expense to put in new fences.

“If there is an existing fence that is OK it shouldn’t mean the neighbour has to contribute to someone else’s development. People often feel they have to contribute to a fence that they don’t really need”, he explained.


The Daily Telegraph compiled some common questions about fencing laws. 

Which side should railings be?

There is no law stating which side of the fence the railings should be.

Do I have to seek my neighbour’s agreement if I decide to pay the full cost — or undertake all the work — on my own?

Yes. Even if you pay the cost you should still get their permission. A court may order a person who removes a fence without permission to restore the original fence or alter the new fence if it does not suit the neighbour.

What are the powers of entry onto a neighbour’s property for the purpose of building or fixing a fence?

You cannot go onto your neighbour’s land without legal authority. If they refuse permission and you have followed the procedure under the Fences Act or have a court order, you can obtain a legal right to enter their land by giving two days’ written notice.

Do I need council approval for a fence?

As a general rule, you need council approval to build a fence higher than 2.1 metres, a masonry fence higher than 1 metre, or a fence more than 1 metre in height within 6 metres of a road intersection.


Tell us, have you ever had a dispute about a fence? What happened?


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Fencing disputes are nothing new. We walked straight into one at our first home when we moved to Perth.

  2. Nope! It would be horrible. The man next door is a sleeze in my opinion but I ignore him as much as I possibly can. And if I can’t I just wave and keep moving.

  3. I’m with Alan on this one. Here’s nothing new about it and “hits” to a cite are not an indication of disputes. It’s an indication that people are researching! Much ado about nothing!

  4. I am trying to live west of the ranges for my asthma, we bought a small farm and the neighbors are determined to run their cows on the roads day and night. The council staff have told us this is how it is and the Mayor has told us if we live in his shire we will do as we are told. Causes a lot of problems.

  5. When we moved to our present house only the backyard was fenced. We wanted to fence the whole yard to keep stray dogs out as we checked with neighbours on both sides about the sort of fence we wanted to put up. They were happy. So we put our fence up and paid for it ourselves as we were the ones that wanted the fence. That was 6 years ago and we have a good relationship with our neighbours.

  6. Doesn’t matter how hard you try to reason with some people you may need a mediator or local council ruling. I was unfortunate to have a rear neighbour that refused to pay his share in the boundry fence, it took a while but in the end it cost him more as in the beginning I was prepared to erect the fence with him, that died very quickly and a contractor had to be engaged.

  7. So this is what retired people do in retirement. Have neighbor disputes. Need to get our more and not see thy neighbor. Maybe make a TV sit comedy.

  8. We have been lucky in having good neighbours. No problems at all with our fencing: new fences and shared costs.

  9. I like my independence, I
    Live in a house, I hate it when you have these busy body neighbours who
    Like to tell u what to do, but u know what, they don’t even help with ones rates!!!!

  10. Fencing isn’t our problem. …. barking dog at 3 in the morning is….grrrrrrr…..

    4 REPLY
    • I think everyone at some time in their lives has this problem. I know we have a couple of times it drives you mad. Once had a school principal so you would think he had a brain next door. He had a border collie who never left the yard used to bark day and night. When approached he said it was his wife’s who he was separated from and she dumped it on him. So it wasn’t his problem derrrh.

    • My problem is kids over the road on their skate board ramps. Their parents encourage them. Suburbia is not the place for them. 2 large ones . So noisy. Sounds like a couple of car doors continually banging for several hours a day. Dread the school holidays. They did have the ramps on the verge but the council made them remove them, so they moved them in line with their fence line. Even with doors & windows shut can still hear the continual banging. So annoying.

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