Do I need a dividing fence?

You do not need a dividing fence if neither you nor your neighbour wants one. If one of you would like a fence and the other would not, it is usually best to get quotes for a fence to be built and then to sort it out amicably.

Where you do not agree, the Local Court or the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal have the power to make an order about whether a fence should be erected. However, because of the cost and stress involved it’s often better to try mediation before you go to court or the tribunal.

If mediation is not successful, the person who wants the fence can serve a Fencing Notice on their neighbour. If you do serve a Fencing Notice and you and your neighbour still can not agree, then you can then apply to the court or tribunal for a determination.

Where a fence needs to be built, it is generally up to neighbours to split the cost. A dividing fence does not have to be the best money can buy; it only needs to be sufficient. If your neighbour wants more than this, they will usually need to pay the difference themselves.

Who should pay for fence repairs?

The general rule is that any repairs to a fence should be split 50/50. However, where the fence has been damaged because one of you was careless or reckless, then the person responsible for the damage usually incurs the cost of repairing it.

If you can not agree, then a court or land board can make an order about who should pay.

Can my neighbour look over my fence?

In NSW, there is no legal right to privacy. So if a neighbour can see into your backyard, they are allowed to look at or listen to what is going on.

Besides asking your neighbour to stop, one thing you may be able to do is to try to block their view by building a higher fence or planting shrubs or trees around the perimeter of your land. (Keep in mind that if a hedge or plant is bigger than you need and blocks your neighbour’s sunlight or view, a court can order you to remove it.)

If they are looking inside your place, you might also want to invest in heavier curtains.

If your neighbour’s behaviour starts to border on harassment or intimidation, you should contact the police and try to obtain an Apprehended Violence Order.

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