Fences are something we as renters, home owners or property investors rarely think about until they become a problem.
How many of us have rented a house with a dilapidating fence? How many home owners have decided to undergo some renovations only to face strong upheaval from the neighbours who refuse to chip in? They’re a real pain – but unfortunately, they’re a necessary one.
What’s more is that there’s a trove of rules and regulations in place to make the task that much more undesirable.
To make sure you’re doing the right thing when it comes to sectioning off your home or dwelling, read on below.
Back in the day, we’d operate under what was called the Dividing Fences Act. Comically, it’s now been replaced by the Neighbourhood Disputes Act (as if dividing fences imminently presents an opportunity for neighbourhood disputes).
Under this new Act the term ‘sufficient’ plays a huge role. Basically, it states that a ‘sufficient fence’ is one that’s between .5m and 1.8m high. It can be made of any material whether that be vegetation, wire, timber or cement blocks. It also has to be financed equally by both parties (which is where most people run into trouble).
The act essentially ensures that both parties are satisfied with the end result and there’s been an attempt to work collaboratively.
To get started on your fence alterations you must give a ‘Notice to Fence’ with a quote for the work. Also there must be 30 days clear notice to allow the neighbour to seek their own contractor and provide a quote or suggest an alternative solution.
After 30 days, if the neighbour does not agree and you can’t reach an agreement, you may lodge a dispute application with QCAT (Queensland Civil & Administrative Tribunal) at your cost.
But before you do – just a heads up. QCAT will not consider any application that has not attempted to be resolved with neighbours. You’ll also require proof of doing so. So save those text messages!
HOW DO YOU UPGRADE/UPSIZE A FENCE?
Say you have a 1.2m timber fence and you want to upgrade to a 1.8m block fence. In this case, a sufficient fence is considered to be your original 1.2m fence. Your options are as follows:
- You and your neighbour agree to go halves in the upgrade
- Your neighbour doesn’t want to pay, but is happy for you to cover the costs. This would mean you simply pay the difference between the original fence and the new fence.
- Your neighbour does not want the changes to go ahead, but you do. If you couldn’t reach an agreement, this would mean you have to lodge a complaint with QCAT.
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT FIXING A DILAPIDATED/DAMAGED FENCE?
If your fence is dilapidated or damaged and you feel like the work needs to be carried our urgently, you can do so without giving notice. It just has to be restored to its previous condition without major changes. If you want to alter the fence, the same rules would apply to the scenario above.
If the fence has simply dilapidated over time, both parties are required to pay for the costs. If the fence was damaged by one party or a guest of one party, they’ll have to cover the full costs.
WHAT IF THERE’S NO FENCE?
Say you move into a property that doesn’t have fencing. If one party decides they need to build a sufficient fence, then the other party legally has to oblige.
If you have special requirements – intentions to build a pool or pets/animals that will need to be contained within your property by a larger fence, you’ll have to pay the difference.
If you need more information, head over to: The Queensland Government Site – Fencing Disputes
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