In the perfect world, our neighbours would be wonderful, trustworthy folks that we could discuss issues with any time over a coffee… And maybe, if you’re lucky, this is the case. However, for most of us, we don’t live in that perfect world and relationships with the neighbours aren’t always that rosy. That’s just life.
If there’s one thing that’s likely to be a topic for a dispute between neighbours (even those on good terms), it’s shared fencing. It’s your fence, but it’s also their fence. So, who’s responsible to wear the cost of maintenance and repairs to a shared fence?
As the part owner of a fence, it’s wise to understand your responsibilities and rights. Each state in Australia has laws surrounding fencing, and these may vary even between local councils. Familiarize yourself with the regulations in your area so that if and when it becomes necessary for work to be done on your fence, you are well aware of your own obligations and those of your neighbour.
So, what should I do if I think my dividing fence needs maintenance or repairs?
As a general rule, the cost of repairs and maintenance to a shared fence is to be divided equally between neighbours. There are some exceptions, however, such as if one party has been solely responsible for damages to the fence.
So, when it comes to regular repairs or maintenance, the first step is to approach your neighbour and discuss what you feel needs to be done. Chances are, they’ve been thinking the same thing, or if not, they’ll be willing to work along with you and share the cost. If that’s the case, you can discuss design, materials, cost, fencing contractors, fence placement etc and come up with a plan that you both agree on – happy days! Your fencing project can proceed as planned.
What if there is a conflict or disagreement?
If, however, you meet with resistance from your neighbour, you may be forced to take your case to the authorities and follow the procedure set out in the Fences Act for your state. Before you can begin any work on the fence, you must issue your neighbour with a fencing notice, which is a document that clearly sets out all the details of the work you are proposing. It must include such things as the type of fence, contractor to be employed, cost estimates and contributor proportions.
In the event that your neighbour chooses not to respond to the fencing notice, after a set time (you’ll need to confirm the number of days with your local authority) you may begin works on the fence. Their financial contribution may be recovered in due course, by following through with legal action.
What about tenanted properties?
If you have a tenant renting your property, the tenant is not responsible for any repairs or maintenance to the fence. This is the responsibility of the property owner.
Ideally, when you erect a boundary fence, choose one that will require minimal upkeep. Most of us have better uses for our money than spending it on continual fencing repairs, so contact the team at Australian Security Fencing and ask for their professional advice. They can help you choose a fence that is strong, durable and aesthetically pleasing, and that will require very little maintenance. Call us today on 1800 666 927 and discuss your needs with our friendly staff.