Case study - Aleena and Raj
lives in the property next door to Raj. There is currently no fence separating
the properties. A fencing contractor has told Aleena that a retaining wall needs
to be built under the fence to support any dividing fence between the
properties. Aleena would like to know if she can ask Raj to pay for half the
cost of the retaining wall as well as the fence and whether she needs to get approval
from her Local Council to build the retaining wall.
Normally the owners of neighbouring properties must equally share the cost of building a sufficient dividing fence. Under the Dividing Fences Act, a retaining wall is part of a 'dividing fence' if it is necessary for the support and maintenance of the fence.
A retaining wall is a structure to support or hold back earth. A retaining wall is often found between properties where the ground is at different levels, and:
Both you and your neighbour would usually equally share the cost of building, repairing or maintaining a retaining wall if the wall is necessary for the support and maintenance of a dividing fence between your properties.
If the retaining wall does not support and maintain the dividing fence the situation is different. The responsibility for the cost of building, repairing or maintaining a retaining wall may be determined by looking at various factors such as:
If you are not sure whether a retaining wall is necessary to support or maintain the dividing fence, you should get legal advice.
It is important to talk to your neighbour if you have a problem about a dividing fence. For more information, see How to talk to your neighbour.
If you and your neighbour cannot reach an agreement about who should pay for the retaining wall you can try mediation. Mediation is an informal process, where an independent person (called a 'mediator') can help people resolve their dispute. For more information, see Mediation.
If after trying mediation, you and your neighbour still cannot reach an agreement, you should serve (give) your neighbour a Fencing Notice. If after one month of serving the Fencing Notice, you and your neighbour still cannot reach an agreement, either of you can apply to the Local Court or the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for Fencing Orders.
For more information, see Cannot agree?
For answers to commonly asked questions, see Frequently Asked Questions.