Neighbourhood Disputes (WA)
Updated on Nov 07, 2022 • 4 min read • 427 views • Copy Link
Neighbourhood Disputes (WA)
It is common for disputes to arise between neighbours in urban and suburban areas. These may concern noisy dogs, loud parties, overhanging trees or a fence that needs to be repaired. The majority of neighbourhood disputes can be resolved by talking to the other party directly and arriving at a mutually acceptable solution. If a neighbourhood dispute cannot be resolved directly, you can make a complaint to your local council or to the police or take action in court. This page deals with neighbourhood disputes in Western Australia.
Neighbourhood disputes about fences
Residential neighbours generally split the costs of erecting or repairing a dividing fence. However, if one neighbour is responsible for damage to a fence or wants a more costly fence than the other neighbour requires, costs may be divided unequally.
When a person wants to construct or repair a dividing fence, they should first approach their neighbour and try to reach an agreement about the type of fencing work to be done and how the costs will be shared.
If an agreement cannot be reached, a written notice should be served on the neighbour setting out the proposed work and how costs are proposed to be divided.
If the parties do not agree about the fencing work, either party may apply to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the Notice being received.
Fence disputes in WA are governed by the Dividing Fences Act 1961.
Neighbourhood disputes about trees
Neighbourhood disputes sometimes concern trees that are affecting a neighbour’s property with overhanging branches or protruding roots.
If you are being affected by a tree on your neighbour’s property, talk to them about the situation.
If your neighbour’s tree is overhanging your property, you may prune it back at your own expense without their permission but you may not go onto their property to do so without permission. If a tree is protected by a tree preservation order, you must not prune it.
If you cannot come to an agreement about the tree, you may want to seek the help of a mediation service.
Neighbourhood disputes about pets
Legislation such as the Dog Act 1976 sets out the responsibilities of people keeping domestic animals in WA. Local councils also have the power to make by-laws about the number of animals that may be kept and about their care and control. Criminal offences apply to failures to care and control animals properly.
Disputes may arise between neighbours about animals making noise, unhygienic animal enclosures, or animals damaging or trespassing on neighbouring properties. If a person is concerned about their neighbour’s animals, they should first talk to the neighbour directly about the situation. If the situation cannot be resolved privately, a complaint can be made to the local council, or to the local police if the matter is urgent.
Neighbourhood disputes about noise
Neighbourhood disputes may also arise because of excessive noise coming from a residential property. Noise in WA is regulated by the Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997.
Power tools and other noisy equipment are not to be used for more than two hours a day between the hours of 7 am and 7 pm Monday to Saturday, or between 8 am and 7 pm on Sunday. Building sites are, however, exempt from these restrictions.
Excessive noise may amount to a private nuisance. If the noise is so severe that it affects your quality of life, you can apply for a court order requiring your neighbour to stop making the noise and/or seek compensation.
Breaches of noise restrictions may also amount to a criminal offence. If you make a complaint about excessive noise to your local council, this will generally result in an environmental health officer attending to advise the neighbour of the complaint. If the situation does not resolve, a noise reading may be taken to assess whether noise restrictions are being breached.
If you are being affected by noise from a pub or club, you can make a complaint to the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor Licensing. Strict rules apply to these venues with respect to noise in residential areas.
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