​ሕግንና ደንብን በተመለከተ እርዳታ ማግኘት ይፈልጋሉን? - Amharic | هل تحتاج لمساعدة قانونية؟ - Arabic | ܤܢܝܼܩܵܐ ܝ݇ܘ̤ܬ ܠܗܲܝܵܪܬܵܐ ܩܵܢܘܿܢܵܝܬܵܐ؟ - Assyrian | Need Legal Help? - Auslan | Treba li vam pravna pomoc? - Bosnian | Burmese â Need Legal Help? | 需要法律帮助吗? - Chinese Simplified | 需要法律幫助嗎? - Chinese Traditional | Trebate li pravnu pomoć? - Croatian | ضرورت به کمک قانونی دارید؟ - Dari | Wïc Kuɔɔny në Wɛ̈t Löŋ? - Dinka | آیا به کمک حقوقی نیاز دارید؟ - Farsi | Gadreva na Veivuke Vakalawa? - Fijian | Kailangan ninyo ba ng tulong na panglegal? - Filipino | Besoin d’aide juridique ? - French | Χρειάζεστε βοήθεια σε νομικά ζητήματα - Greek | क्या आपको कानूनी सलाह चाहिए? - Hindi | Butuhkan Bantuan dalam Masalah Hukum? - Indonesian | Hai bisogno di assistenza legale? - Italian | ត្រូវការជំនួយលើបញ្ហាផ្លូវច្បាប់ឬទេ? - Khmer | 법적인 도움이 필요하십니까? - Korean | Ви треба ли помош со правни работи? - Macedonian | कानूनी सहयोग चाहिएको छ? - Nepalese | Necessita de ajuda com questões jurídicas? - Portuguese | Вам нужна юридическая помощь? - Russian | E Manaomia Fesoasoani i Mea Tau Tulafono? - Samoan | а ли вам треба помоћ у правним питањима? - Serbian | Ma u baahan tahay Caawimmad xagga sharciga ah?- Somali | ¿Necesita ayuda con cuestiones jurídicas? - Spanish | சட்ட உதவி தேவையா? - Tamil | ท่านต้องการความช่วยเหลือทางด้านกฎหมายไหม? - Thai | Fiema’u ha tokoni Fakalao? - Tongan | Yasal Danışmaya İhtiyacınız mı var? - Turkish | Cần Được Giúp Đỡ Về Luật Pháp? - Vietnamese |

Frequently asked questions

​​Building, fixing or re​​placing a fence​​​

​​​​​​1. I want to put up a fence ​between my propert​​y and ​​my ne​igh​​bour's property. What type of fence can I put up and who should pay?

The type of fen​ce you can build will depend on:

  • what is considered to be 'sufficient
  • what you and your neighbour agree on
  • any local council requirements
  • any other laws that might apply to you (for example if your fence will be part of a swimming pool fence there are other laws that affect what type of fence can be built
  • any limits (for example covenants, easements or restrictions on user) that apply to your land or your neighbour's land.​

You and your neighbour are usually required to equally share the cost of building a dividing fence. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

For more information, see Building, fixing or replacing a fence.

2. The wooden f​ence between my​​ property and my neighbour's property is old and falling apart. I want to replace it with a steel fence. Can I ask my neighbour to pay half?

You should talk to your neighbour and see if you can agree on the type of fence you both want.

Your neighbour will only have to pay half the costs of a 'sufficient dividing fence'.

What a 'sufficient dividing fence' is in your particular situation will depend on many factors, including:

  • what type of existing fence there is, if any
  • what your land and the neighbouring land is used for
  • your privacy and your neighbour's privacy
  • the types of fences that are used in your area
  • the requirements of your local council
  • whether your fence encloses a swimming pool.

If you want a fence that is more than sufficient, then you will need to pay the extra amount.

For more information, see Who should pay? and What type of fence?

3. My neighbour has told me he wants​​ to replace our wooden dividing fence with a colorbond fence. I am happy with the wooden fence. Do I have to pay half?

Not necessarily. If the current fence doesn't need replacing then there is usually no need to build a new fence. If the fence does need replacing your neighbour can ask that you pay half the cost of a 'sufficient dividing fence'.

What a 'sufficient dividing fence' is in your particular situation will depend on many factors, including:

  • what type of existing fence there is, if any
  • what your land and the neighbouring land is used for
  • your privacy and your neighbour's privacy
  • the types of fences that are used in your area
  • the requirements of your local council
  • whether your fence encloses a swimming pool.

If your neighbour wants a fence that is more than sufficient, they will be responsible for paying the extra cost.

For more information, see Who should pay? and What type of fence?

4. The house next door has tenants.​​ Last weekend they had a party in the yard. My fence was damaged and a number of the panels were knocked out. The fence needs to be repaired. Who has to pay for it, the tenant or the owner?

The owner of the property is usually responsible for restoring the fence to the standard it was before it was damaged. You should speak to the owner to organise the repairs to your fence. If you and the owner cannot agree, see Cannot agree?

Although the owner is usually responsible for paying the cost of repairing the fence, they may then be able to recover the costs from their tenants.

For more information, see Who should pay?

5. My neighbour has a swimming pool. ​​The dividing fence between our backyards is part of the fence around their swimming pool. The fence is falling down. Who has to pay to fix it?

If a swimming pool fence is also part of a dividing fence, the owner of the property with the swimming pool is usually responsible for all expenses associated with constructing, altering, repairing, replacing or maintaining the part of the dividing fence that is also the swimming pool fence.

The owner of the property with a swimming pool is also responsible for making sure that the swimming pool fence complies with laws about swimming pool fences.

For more information, see Who should pay?

6. My neighbour has a retaining wall ​close to the fence that separates our properties. The wall is crumbling. Do I have to pay to repair the retaining wall?

If the retaining wall is needed to support or maintain a dividing fence, you may have to share the costs of repairing it. The process for recovering the costs of repairing it will be the same as for any other type of fencing work.

You should speak to your neighbour to try and reach agreement about repairing the retaining wall. For more information see Talk to your neighbour.

If the retaining wall does not support the fence and only supports the land, the law about dividing fences does not apply. The law that applies to this situation is much more complicated and you should get legal advice.

If you are not sure whether the retaining wall is needed to support the dividing fence, you should get legal advice.

7. My neighbour wants a fence to keep​ his sheep in. There is a river that runs through both our properties. Where should we build the fence?

A dividing fence will usually go on the common boundary line between two neighbouring properties. If a fence can't be built on the boundary line because of the nature of the land (for example, a river running through it), it will usually be built as close to the boundary line as possible.

It may be that you can agree with your neighbour to build a fence that is not on the boundary, but is instead on a mutually agreed line that suits your land. This is often called a "give and take fence."

For more information see Where should the fence go?

8. There has been a storm and the ​​fence that divides my land from my neighbour's has been damaged. I need to fix the fence today to prevent stock loss, but I can't find my neighbour. Do I have to wait until I can talk to my neighbour to make the repairs?

Not necessarily. If urgent fencing work is needed, it is possible for a person to build or fix a fence without notifying their neighbour and still claim half the costs. For more information see Urgent fencing work.

Alert icon If you want to do urgent fencing work, you should get legal advice first. 

9. I would like to do fencing work. Can I enter my neighbour's property without their permission?

No, if you enter your neighbour's property without their permission you will be trespassing. However, you may be able to enter your neighbour's property to do fencing work at any reasonable time without first asking them if:

  • urgent fencing work is required, or
  • there is an agreement about the fencing work between you and your neighbour, or
  • you have a Local Court or NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) Order for fencing work, or
  • you have an order under the Access to Neighbouring Land Act from the Local Court.

Alert iconIf you want to do urgent fencing work, you should get legal advice first. For more information, see Urgent fencing work.

10. What if my neighbour wants a fence but I do not?

The law says that owners must share the cost of building a sufficient dividing fence between your properties. This means that if your neighbour wants a fence, but you do not, you are still responsible for sharing the cost of building it. 

For more information about what is a 'sufficient dividing fence' see What type of fence?

If you are having trouble reaching an agreement with your neighbour, you could try mediation. Community Justice Centres (CJCs) offer free mediation services that may be able to help you talk to your neighbour and reach an agreement. 

For more information, see Cannot agree​.

11. I want to add lattice to the top of our dividing fence. Am I allowed to do this? 

You should talk to your nieghbour and get their agreement before you add anything to the dividing fence.

If you damage the fence in the process of adding lattice, you may be responsible for the full cost of repairing it. 

You should also check with your local council, what the maximum height of the fence in your area is. If by adding lattice to the fence, the fence exceeds the maximum height for fences in your area, your fence may be breaching local council rules or regulations. ​

Talk to yo​​​​ur neighbour

​1. The fence separating my property from my neighbour's property is falling apart. I went to speak to the person living next door, but he told me he is​​ only a tenant and will not give me the name of the own​er. How can I find out the owner's name and address?

There are a number of ways you can find out the name of the owner of the property. If the tenant will not give you the owner's name and contact details, you could speak to the real estate agent who looks after the property. They may not give you this information and they do not have to. You could also do a Title Search to find out the name of the owner and then search the phone book or electoral roll for their contact details. It may also be possible to make an Access Application to your local council to find out the name and address of the owner of the property.

For more information, see Findin​g your neighbour.

2. I have had trouble with my​​​ neighbours in the past about lots of things. I need to talk to them about repairing the fence but I do not know how to approach them. What should I do?

Think about when the best time to approach your neighbours might be. If you do not think that you can have a discussion with them at any time in person, you could write to them instead.

For more tips to help you get the best result when you need to discuss fencing work with your neighbour see How to talk to your neighbour.

3. My neighbour wants me to sign an ​agreement about doing some fencing work. What should be included in the agreement?

The agreement should include the name and address of each neighbour, details about the location and type of fence to be built or fixed, and information about who will pay for the fencing work. Details about when the work will be completed and when payment will be made should also be included.

You should make sure that you are able to do all the things you agree to. If you do not, your neighbour may do the work without you and then claim the cost from you.

For a detailed list of what to include in an agreement, see Agreement in writing.

For a completed example of an agreement, see Sample agreement.

4. My neighbours signed an agreement​​ about doing some fencing work but they didn't pay me when they were supposed to. What can I do?

If you organise and pay for fencing work and your neighbour fails to pay you as agreed, you can make a claim in the Local Court for the amount owed. To make a claim you must complete a form called a Statement of Claim and pay a filing fee.A Statement of Claim sets out that someone owes you a debt.

For more information, see Enforcing an agreement. ​

5. I am happy to pay the full costs of a​​​ new fence. Can I build the fence without agreeing with my neighbour?

If you are prepared to pay the full costs of a dividing fence, you do not have to come to an agreement with your neighbour about the design of the fence. However, you will still need to:

  • follow any local council regulations and
  • get permission from your neighbour before removing an existing fence or entering their property to do the fencing work.

If you simply remove the dividing fence without agreement from your neighbour, you may be liable for trespass or for any damage to your neighbour's property (for example damage to the fence itself or anything attached to the fence, or damage caused by any gaps in the fence).

Also, if you do not reach an agreement with your neighbour about the fencing work, your neighbour may argue that the fence is not a 'sufficient' dividing fence and apply for an order for a different fence.

For these reasons, even if you are happy to pay the full costs of fencing work, you should try to talk to your neighbour and come to an agreement before starting any work.

For more information, see Talk to your neighbour.

6. The fence between my house and my​ neighbour's house is old and falling down. Is there anything we can do about getting a new fence without having to go to court?

You do not have to go to court if you and your neighbour can agree on the type of fencing work that should be carried out. You should talk to your neighbour and see what they want to do. If you both come to an agreement, you should put it in writing.
For more information, see Talk to your neighbour.

If you are having trouble reaching agreement with your neighbour, you could try mediation. Community Justice Centres (CJCs) offer free mediation services that may be able to help you talk to your neighbour and reach an agreement.

For more information, see Cannot agree​.

Cannot agree

​​​​​1. I spoke to my neighb​our about fixing​​​ our old fence. We cannot agree on the repairs that need to be made. What can we do?

If you and your neighbour cannot agree about fencing work, you can arrange to attend mediation at a Community Justice Centre (CJC).

For more information, see Mediation.

If you are not able to reach an agreement at mediation, or your neighbour does not want to mediate, you can serve them with (give them) a Fencing Notice. A Fencing Notice is a document that tells your neighbour that you plan on building, fixing or replacing a fence, and that you would like them to contribute to the costs. Your neighbour has one month to respond to the notice.

For more information, see Fencing Notices​.

2. I want to serve my neighbour with a​​ fencing notice. What should the notice say?

There is no standard form for a Fencing Notice. You can write the notice yourself but it should include:

  • a statement saying that you are giving a Fencing Notice under the 'Dividing Fences Act 1991 - Section 11'
  • your address
  • your neighbour's address
  • where on the boundary line you want to do the fencing work (or what other line you would like to build the fence on if it is not practical to build on the common boundary line)
  • a description of the type of fencing work to be done, including the length and height of the fence and materials to be used
  • who will do the work
  • the date the work will start
  • the date the work will be finished by
  • the estimated cost
  • how the cost is to be split (usually equally).

For more information, see Fencing Notice - step by step guide.

For examples of completed Fencing Notices, see:

3. I sent a Fencing Notice to my ​​neighbour but I have not heard from her. What should I do now?

If one month has passed since you served your Fencing Notice and your neighbour still has not responded or will not agree to your proposal, it is possible to apply to the Local Court or the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for a Fencing Order.

It is up to you where you make your application. While the law that is applied in the Local Court and NCAT is the same, each has different procedures for dealing with fencing cases.

For help deciding where to make your application, see Fencing Orders.

4. There is no fence between my ​​neighbour's property and my property. We want a fence but cannot agree on the type of fence or where it should go. Is there anything we can do without going to court?

If you and your neighbour cannot agree about the type of dividing fence you should have and where it should be located, you could arrange to attend mediation at Community Justice Centres (CJC). For more information, see Mediation.

If you cannot reach an agreement at mediation, you can serve your neighbour with a Fencing Notice. For more information, see Fencing Notices.

If you disagree about where the common boundary is, you can serve your neighbour with a Boundary Notice. For more information, see Boundaries.

5. My neighbour and I want to do ​​fencing work but we have not been able to agree on where the boundary between our properties is. Today my neighbour served me with a Boundary Notice. What should I do?

A Boundary Notice is a notice from your neighbour saying that they want the common boundary line between their property and your property to be defined by a registered surveyor so that fencing work can be done. If you receive a Boundary Notice you have seven days to:

  • peg the boundary line, or
  • hire a registered surveyor.

You should notify your neighbour in writing if you take either of these steps. If you do not hire a registered surveyor, your neighbour can hire one within one month of serving you with (giving you) the notice.

For more information, see Boundaries

6. My neighbour wants to remove our dividing fence. Can my neighbour remove the fence without asking me?

Your nieghbour should not remove the dividing fence without getting:

  • ​your agreement,or
  • a Fencing Order from the Local Court, or
  • a Fencing Order from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)

If your neighbour removes the fence without your consent, your neighbour may be responsible for the full cost of replacing it. 

If, in the process​ of removing the fence, your neighbour enters your property without your consent, your neighbour may have unlawfully trespassed on your land. You should get legal advice.

Fencing Orders

1. I served my neighbour with a​​ Fencing Notice and I did not get a reply. W​hat do I do now?​

You can apply to either the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)  or the Local Court for Fencing Orders. The earliest you can apply is one month after you served the Fencing Notice. The first decision you must make is where to apply.

For more information, see Fencing Orders.

You will need to fill in an application form. The Local Court and NCAT have different application forms. If you want to apply:

2. I am confused. Should I apply to the ​NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) or the Local Court for a Fencing Order?

NCAT and the Local Court can both make orders about fences. It is up to you where you make your application. You need to carefully consider the different processes. For example, if you choose to apply to NCAT you will likely have to represent yourself but in the Local Court you can have a lawyer represent you.

There are also some other differences such as waiting times, the number of times you have to attend, site visits, rules of evidence and rights of appeal.

To help you decide where to make your application, see Fencing Orders.

3. How long will it take before my case​​ is heard?

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) aims to list matters for conciliation and hearing within four weeks. Waiting times for the Local Court  vary from court to court. It may be several weeks or months before a court can hear your matter, depending on how busy the court is.

You may be able to check the current waiting times with your Local Court.

For enquires to the Local Court, you should contact your nearest court house. You can find the contact details on the Loc​al Court​ website. ​

4. I am going to the NSW Civil and ​Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for a fencing dispute I am having with my neighbour. Do I need a lawyer to go with me?

You do not have to have a lawyer if you are going to NCAT. Generally, people represent themselves. You are only allowed to be represented by a lawyer at NCAT with permission (leave) from the Tribunal. For more information on asking for leave, see the NCAT website or get legal advice.

You can represent yourself in the Local Court. However, if you want, you can get a solicitor to represent you.

Even if a lawyer does not represent you, you should get some legal a​​​dvice about your case. Losing a case or making mistakes in a court case could lead to orders that you pay legal costs.

5. I received a letter from the Local ​Court saying that I have to appear before the court next month because of a fencing dispute I am having with my neighbour. What does this mean?

Your neighbour has applied for a Fencing Order. This means they are asking the magistrate to consider their application and make specific orders about fencing work and how the costs should be shared.

For more information, see Going to the Local Court​.

If your neighbour is applying for a Fencing Order, either you or your neighbour must have served a Fencing Notice at least one month earlier. If you did not receive a Fencing Notice, or it has not yet been one month since you received the notice, you will need to explain this to the magistrate when you attend court.​

6. I want to apply for a fencing order but the owner of the property next door lives in Western Australia. Can I still apply to NCAT for a fencing order?

If you or your neighbours live outside of NSW, NCAT may not be able to hear your matter.  The Local Court can make fencing orders and  it will be easier to apply directly to the Local Court in this situation. For more information, see Going to the Local Court – Step by step guide.

If you apply to NCAT instead of the Local Court for a fencing order, your matter will be listed for a conciliation conference.  Any agreement you reach at conciliation will not be enforceable and NCAT will not be able to make any orders if they do not have jurisdiction to deal with your matter. You will then need to apply the Local Court for a fencing order by filing a Local Court summons and supporting affidavit together with a copy of the original NCAT application and letter from NCAT. You should get legal advice about your situation.

After the decision 

1. The NSW Civil and Adminis​trative​​ Tribunal (NCAT) made a decision that my neighbour and I exchange quotes for fencing work by last week. My neighbour has not given me their quote yet. What should I do?

You should try to talk to your neighbour and give your quote to them as ordered by NCAT. You should make sure that you do this within the time ordered by NCAT. If you and your neighbour still cannot agree, and your neighbour will not get a quote, you can contact NCAT and ask that the application be renewed. 

For more information, see Enforcing an NCAT order

2. My neighbour and I to​ok our fencing​​​ dispute to the Local Court. The Local Court ordered me to pay a fencing contractor for fencing work. My neighbour is supposed to pay me half. When should my neighbour pay me?

If the Local Court made an order that your neighbour pay you half the costs of the fencing work, your neighbour should usually pay you at the same time you pay the fencing contractor (unless the court made an order that they pay you at another time). If your neighbour refuses to give you their share of the costs, it is possible to take steps to enforce the decision. 

For more information, see Enforcing a Local Court order

3. I have paid a contractor f​or fencing​​​ work. The tribunal member of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) said my neighbour was supposed to pay me $500, but he is refusing to pay. How can I make him pay?

If your neighbour is refusing to pay, it is possible to enforce NCAT's decision. You will need to ask  NCAT to issue a certificate which confirms who owes you the money and the amount of money owed. Once you receive the certificate, you can file it with the Local Court so that it is registered. The registered certificate will be able to be enforced in the same way as any other Local Court judgment. 

For more information, see Enforcing a NCAT order

4. The Local Court ordered that ​my​ neighbour get fencing work done and that I pay her for half the costs. My neighbour has got the fencing work done but I have not paid her yet. What can happen if I do not pay?

If you have not paid your neighbour, your neighbour may be able to enforce the judgment of the Local Court against you to recover the money you owe them. Your neighbour could get a sheriff to seize your property or get an order to garnish (take money from) your wages or your bank account.

For more information, see Enforcing a Local Court order

5. Can I enter my neighbo​ur's property ​​to do fenci​ng work without their permission?

No. If you enter yo​​ur neighbour's property without their permission you will be trespassing. However, you may be able to enter your neighbour's property to do f​encing work at any reasonable time without first asking them if:

  • ​urgent fencing work is required, or
  • there is an agreement about the fencing work between you and your neighbour, or
  • you have a Local Court or Land Board Order for fencing work, or
  • you have an order under the Access to Neighbouring Land Act from the Local Court.

Alert iconIf you want to do urgent fencing work, you should get legal advice first. For more information see Urgent fencing work. ​

6. I have an order from the Local Land​​ Board that says that my neighbour has to pay me money for a divid​ing fence. Now my neighbour​​​​ will not pay. The Local Land Board no longer exists. What can I do? 

Orders of the Local Land Board ca​n still be enforced. An order of the Board is treated as an order of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) and you can follow the same steps to enforce it. For information on how to do this, see Enforcing a NCAT order.

Boundaries 

1. How can my neighbour and I find out where the boundary between our properties is?

The steps that you can take will depend on whether you need to know where the boundary is so you can do fencing work. If you want to work out where the boundary is so you can build, fix or replace a fence, you can serve a 'Boundary Notice'. A Boundary Notice is a written notice to your neighbour saying that you intend to have a registered surveyor define the boundary so that fencing work can be done.

If you want to find out where the common boundary between your property and your neighbour's property is and there is no fencing issue involved, you can hire a registered surveyor to define the boundary. You can find surveyors in the Y​ellow Pages under 'land surveyors'.

If there is some issue with the surveyor's report (for example it conflicts with another survey that has been done), or there is some other reason that there is still doubt about where the boundary actually is, it is possible to make an application to the Registrar General of New South Wales to determine the boundary.

For more information, see Boundaries

2. I want to build a fence between my​​ property and my neighbour's property, but we cannot agree on where the boundary is. What should I do?

If you want to work out where the boundary is so you can build, fix or replace a fence, you can serve a 'Boundary Notice'. A Boundary Notice is a written notice to your neighbour saying that you intend to have a registered surveyor define the boundary so that fencing work can be done. For more information see Boundaries and fences.

3. I have two conflicting surveys of my​​ land and I want to make an application for a boundary determination. How do I do this?

If you want to get a formal determination of where the boundary of your property is, you can make an application to the Registrar General. You must complete a 'Determination of Title Boundary Form'. The form must be filed in person at a NSW Land Registry Services office. You must also pay a filing fee of $138.80 (as at July 2017).

For more information, see Boundaries.

4. I received a notice from the Registrar​​​ General that says my neighbour has made an application for the boundary to be determined. I do not think that there is an issue with the boundary. What do I do?

The Registrar General will give you at least 21 days to make written submissions about your neighbour's application.

You should check the letter you received from the Registrar General carefully, so that you do not miss the due date for making your submissions. If you need help with your submissions, you should get legal advice.

For more information, see Finding the boundary.

5. I applied for a boundary ​​​​determination. Now I have received a request to pay for the cost of a surveyor. Do I have to pay this?

Yes. If the Registrar General thinks an investigation or surveyor is necessary, you will be asked to pay for the costs of the investigation and/or survey. If you do not pay the costs, the Registrar General can refuse to give you their decision until the money is paid.

For more information, see Finding the boundary.

6. The Registrar General made a​​ decision about the common boundary between my property and my neighbour's property. I do not agree with the decision. What can I do?

You may be able to appeal the Registrar General's decision to the Land and Environment Court. You must do this within 28 days of receiving notice of the Registrar General's decision.

If you want to appeal, you should get legal advice.

Case in the Local Court or Local Land Board 
​