Dividing fence disputes are common between neighbours. In practice, most fence disputes concern responsibility for the costs of maintaining a dividing fence. Ordinarily, both neighbours are liable to each pay half of the costs of maintaining a dividing fence.
The Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011 defines a “fence” as a “structure, ditch or embankment, or a hedge or similar vegetative barrier, enclosing or bounding land, whether or not continuous or extending along the entire boundary separating the land of adjoining owners”, and includes:
- A gate, cattle grid or apparatus necessary for the operation of the fence;
- A natural or artificial watercourse separating the land of adjoining owners; and
- A foundation or support built solely for the support and maintenance of the fence.
A fence is not a retaining wall, garage or other building.
A “dividing fence” means a fence on the common boundary of adjoining lands. A fence will also be a dividing fence if:
- It is impracticable to construct a fence entirely on the common boundary of the adjoining lands because of natural physical features; or
- The adjoining land includes 1 or more parcels of pastoral land separated by a watercourse, lake, or other natural or artificial feature insufficient to stop the passage of stock at all times.
A “sufficient dividing fence” is, for adjoining land of 2 parcels of residential land, between a minimum of 0.5m and a maximum of 1.8m in height. The adjoining owners may also agree between themselves that a dividing fence is a sufficient dividing fence.
Neighbours may informally agree to repair a dividing fence. A neighbour may also give the other neighbour a Notice to Contribute to request that the other neighbour contribute to repairing or constructing a dividing fence.
It is preferable to resolve any dispute with your neighbour in respect of a fence without applying to a tribunal. However, if such disputes cannot be resolved, then you may apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“QCAT”) to resolve the dispute.
Our Commercial Litigation team regularly advises on fence disputes and other neighbourhood disputes. Please do not hesitate to contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form should you have any queries.