Good fences make good neighbours…but what if you and your neighbours can’t even agree on a good fence? To take the stress, confusion and awkwardness out of neighbourhood fencing disputes, we’ve created this comprehensive list of all the Dividing Fences Acts for every state and territory in Australia.
Fencing regulations differ from state to state, and sometimes even within local councils; so when in doubt, check it out! Click on each state below for all the dividing fences acts in Australia:
NSW Dividing Fences Act 1991
In NSW, the Dividing Fences Act 1991 is the go-to document for settling any issues regarding shared fences. The Act states that neighbours are required to contribute equally to the costs of constructing, replacing, repairing or maintaining a shared dividing fence.
If you and your neighbour discuss the work and come to an agreement, it’s recommended that the terms of the agreement are put in writing and signed before work commences. However, if both parties can’t come to an agreement, conflict resolution applications can be made at a Community Justice Centre, the local court, or the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
ACT Common Boundaries Act 1981
The Common Boundaries Act 1981 contains all the ACT’s fencing rules and regulations. ACT legislation states that private property owners sharing side or rear fences must be responsible for contributing equally to the fence’s cost and maintenance. It’s further stated that the definition of a ‘basic urban fence’ is a hardwood paling construction standing 1.5m high; other fence types must be discussed and agreed upon between neighbours.
VIC Fences Amendment Act 2014
The Fences Amendment Act 2014 is the most up-to-date reference for Victorian fencing legislation. It highlights that costs are to be shared equally between neighbours. It also lays out processes to follow when it comes to building and repairing dividing fences; additionally, it states that alternative agreements may be met between neighbours before works commence.
In Victoria, agreements made outside the Fences Act are subject to contract law, but there are avenues available for solving disputes according to the Act. These include contacting the Dispute Settlement of Victoria or proceeding with an action in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.
QLD Dividing Fences and Trees Act 2011
The Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011 are the same regarding shared ownership of dividing fences, and equal contribution by both neighbours to fence building, repairs and replacement.
Fencing disputes that cannot be resolved between neighbours can be referred to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal. These disputes are divided into two categories; disagreements about the dividing fence itself, and debt recovery for fencing work based on an agreed amount. You can check out the Queensland government’s step-by-step guide to resolving fence disputes here.
SA Fences Act 1975
In SA, the Fences Act 1975 regulates all procedures regarding fencing. Joint ownership of dividing fences is the norm, regardless of whether the fence is located directly on the property’s boundary line. SA legislation states that there is no obligation for a neighbour to contribute to the costs of building, repairing or maintaining a fence unless they have agreed to and/or suitable notice has been given.
Unresolvable disputes can be addressed by contacting Community Mediation Services, and if the issue is still unresolved, the matter can be taken to the Magistrates Court.
NT Fences Act
The Northern Territory Fences Act sets out the rules about fencing for NT residents. A sufficient fence between adjoining properties is the responsibility of both parties, provided that the common boundary is specified, notice is given, and an agreement is reached.
WA Dividing Fences Act 1961
In WA, the Dividing Fences Act 1961 is combined with local government rules to regulate dividing fence construction and maintenance. Processes are outlined in the Act for determining common boundaries, notifying each other of proposed works, sharing costs equally, and dealing with disputes.
If an agreement cannot be reached, a resident can make an application to the Magistrates Court to resolve the issue.
TAS Boundary Fences Act 1908
The Boundary Fences Act 1908 still stands as the primary legislation concerning fencing in Tasmania. In order for neighbours to contribute equally to boundary fence costs, notice must be served or an oral or written agreement made between the neighbours.
Arbitration or mediation measures must be taken when an informal agreement cannot be reached regarding fencing; residents are advised to contact the Tasmanian Legal Aid Telephone Advice Service for guidance in these situations.