Dividing fences can be a hotbed for neighbourhood disputes, so every Tuesday for the next few weeks we will be providing tips for avoiding the legal pitfalls of building a dividing fence.
We start with tips for resolving issues before they get out of hand.
Broaching the topic of building a dividing fence can seem like an awkward prospect for many people, as it means talking money and this is not something we tend to do well in Australia. But following our tips should guide you through this process with little fuss.
Know where you stand.
In Queensland there is legislation, The Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011, that dictates how neighbours contribute to the construction of dividing fences. As a general principle the Act dictates that neighbours are to contribute equally to the cost of a dividing fence.
As the obligation on property owners is to contribute towards one half of the cost of a fence, it is important that you get quotes before speaking with your neighbour. It is best to obtain two or three quotes to provide your neighbour with so that you can structure your conversation around the type of dividing fence that you wish to build, not just on cost but also quality and materials.
Defining the boundary
The dividing fence legislation requires that a dividing fence be built on the common boundary where practicable unless otherwise agreed. If there is no existing boundary fence between the neighbouring properties, you will have to agree where the boundary line falls. If you cannot do so, a qualified surveyor should be engaged.
What if my neighbour doesn’t want a fence?
It is important to understand that under Queensland legislation, you have the right to seek contribution by your neighbour towards one half of the cost of a dividing fence where there is no sufficient dividing fence in place. Where there is no dividing fence then it is clear that your neighbour will need to contribute towards the cost. When there is an old fence that you consider to be insufficient, this may be an issue of contention and you may need to negotiate with your neighbour.
If you are able to reach an agreement with your neighbour in respect to the location of the fence, the type of fence you wish to build, the contractor who is to build the fence and the of the cost between yourself and your neighbour it is important that you record that in an agreement. The agreement can be as simple as obtaining a quote for the construction of the dividing fence setting out all important details with a notation you and your neighbour are agreeable to paying one of half of the cost.
Next week we will look at circumstances where you have tried to reach an agreement as to a dividing fence and have been unsuccessful. It is important that if an agreement can’t be reached that the correct procedure is followed or you may be stuck with paying for the entire fence yourself.
If you have any questions regarding a dividing fence dispute, please feel free to give our friendly team a call on 1300 663 236.