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Fence Disputes in Victoria

Written by Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela is one of our Legal Practice Directors and the National Practice Manager. She holds a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master’s in Criminology. Michelle has had a varied career, working in commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. Michelle joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2011. She now supervises a team of over 80 solicitors across Australia.


Dividing Fences Disputes

Fencing disputes between neighbours are quite common! Our Civil Lawyers can assist you to understand your rights as outlined in the Fences Act 1968 (Vic), and resolve any issues.

How are the costs of the fence proportioned?

As a ‘rule of thumb’ the costs are proportioned 50-50. However, this is not specified in the Act and it is up to the owners of both properties to determine how the cost should be divided. It is also a good idea to issue them with a Notice to Fence.

What is a Notice to Fence?

A Notice to Fence is a formal notice served under the Act which outlines the boundary to be fenced, the type of fence, the cost of the fence, the proportion of costs and a copy of the quote. If the neighbour agrees then obtain their approval in writing. If after a month you and your neighbour cannot agree on the costs or type of fence, then you can commence proceedings in the Magistrates Court.

Should we attend mediation?

The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria offers free mediation and is part of the Department of Justice. Once you apply for mediation they will write to your neighbour on your behalf asking them if they would participate. You cannot force your neighbour to attend. Any agreement that is reached at mediation cannot be enforced and if not adhered to the only recourse is through the Magistrates Court.

What happens if your neighbour builds a fence and doesn’t consult you?

If your neighbour builds a fence and doesn’t consult you and hasn’t served you with a Notice to Fence, then they cannot recover any costs from you. However, you may not be able to have the fence removed unless it contravenes the Building Codes and Regulations. If you are thinking of building a fence without notifying your neighbour you need to ensure you do not trespass on their land, as you do not have permission to do so, and this can result in criminal charges. It is always best to consult your neighbour beforehand.

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