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Fencing Disputes (Qld)

Neighbourhood disputes sometimes arise about the dividing fence between two properties. Disputes about fences in Queensland are governed by the Neighbourhood Disputes (Fences and Trees) Act 2011. While most fencing disputes can be resolved directly between the parties concerned, it is sometimes necessary to resort to making an application to QCAT or to the Magistrates Court to determine how the disagreement is to be resolved and how costs are to be shared.  This article deals with fencing disputes in Queensland.

Resolving fencing disputes between neighbours

A fence dispute may relate to the construction to the maintenance of a dividing fence. Owners of adjoining properties are required to contribute equally to the cost of constructing or repairing a dividing fence. However, if own owner wants to construct a fence of a higher standard than what is sufficient, that owner is responsible for paying the extra cost.

If a person is proposing to construct a dividing fence, they should serve their neighbour with a notice to contribute to fencing work. This notice must set out the work that is proposed, at least one quotation for the work and a proposal for how costs are to be shared.

If the neighbour refuses to contribute or disagreed with the proposed work, the person must not go ahead with the work until the dispute has been resolved. If no agreement can be reached directly, one party may invite the other to mediation, apply to QCAT to resolve the dispute (if the amount in dispute is less than $25,000), or apply to the Magistrates Court to resolve the dispute.

Urgent fencing work

If a fence has been damaged or destroyed and needs to be repaired or replaced urgently, a person may carry out the work required to restore it to a reasonable standard without first providing their neighbour with a notice to contribute if it is impractical to do so. A person may obtain contribution from their neighbour after the work has been done in this situation.  

Fence disputes and QCAT

If you are involved in a fencing dispute where the amount in contention is less than $25,000, you may lodge a form 53 ‘application for a minor civil dispute – dividing fences’ to QCAT. QCAT may give you notice to attend mediation or a hearing, depending in the situation.

QCAT can make orders, including:

  • The line on which the fencing work is to be carried out
  • The work to be carried out
  • How the costs are to be divided;
  • The timeframe for the work to be carried out
  • The amount of compensation to be paid to an adjoining owner for removal of a fence or for damage to a fence.

In matters where the amount in dispute is more than $25,000, the application must be made to the Magistrates Court as a jurisdictional limit of $25,000 applies to all QCAT matters. The court may also make any of the orders listed above.  

Unauthorised construction or demolition

If a person believe that their neighbour is planning construction or demolition of a fence without authorisation, they may apply to QCAT to prevent this from occurring. QCAT may order that the fence must not be constructed or demolished.

Where common boundary in dispute

Where neighbours do not agree as to where the boundary between their properties lies, the common boundary may be defined by a cadastral surveyor (a person registered under the Surveyors Act 2003). If the surveyor determines that the boundary is in the same place that one of the neighbours advised, that party is not liable for any of the costs associated with having the boundary determined. In all other situation, the parties share the costs equally.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

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Author

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
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