How to talk to your neighbour
There are a number of ways you can talk to your neighbour about a fencing issue.
If there is an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) between you and your neighbour, you should get legal advice before talking to your neighbour.
Meet face to face
If you have a good relationship with your neighbour, you could try knocking on their door or talk to them about your fencing issue.
Try to talk to them at a time that is convenient to both of you, for example on the weekend, not when they are running out the door on their way to work.
Talk on the phone
If you are uncomfortable meeting your neighbour face to face or they do not live next door, you could try talking to them over the telephone.
Send a letter, e-mail or text
If you find it difficult talking to your neighbour directly or you want to keep a written record of the attempts you have made to resolve the issue, you can send a letter, e-mail or text.
Keep your letter, e-mail or text short and explain what you are asking for in a clear and simple way. If you have quotes, you could attach copies of the quotes.
Tips on talking with your neighbour
It is important to talk to your neighbour if you have a problem with a dividing fence. You may find this difficult or you might not know where to start. Here are some tips that can help you get the best result when you need to discuss fencing work with your neighbour:
Be polite and respectful
Even if you have had troubles with your neighbour before, you should try and speak to them calmly and politely. Do not shout or let yourself get angry. Be patient and give them time to consider what you are asking for.
Focus on the fencing issue
Do not bring up other problems that may have happened in the past. Try and stay focussed on the fencing issue.
Listen to your neighbour
When discussing the issue with your neighbour, it is important that you listen to them. Understanding their point of view may help you reach a solution that suits both of you.
It can be helpful to get quotes for the fencing work you would like to do and show these to your neighbour. If you and your neighbour have different ideas for what material should be used for the fence or its design, you could get quotes for both ideas and then discuss them. There is no minimum number of quotes you should get, but it may be helpful to have at least two so you can talk about your options.
Consider a compromise
It is much quicker (and may be cheaper) to come to an early agreement with your neighbour than to go through the process of getting an order from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) or the Local Court. Think about whether you could compromise on the type of fence that will be built, or its height or location. If you want a fence that is more expensive than the type your neighbour wants, you could offer to pay the additional cost of the more expensive fence.
For more information, see the Negotiation topic on this website.
Sometimes talking to your neighbour directly may not be the best option, particularly if you do not have a good relationship with them. You should always keep your safety in mind. You can try mediation which involves the help of a third person to try and settle the dispute. For more information, see Mediation.
Keeping a record of your attempts to resolve your fencing issue may be important if you later decide to go to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) or the Local Court for a Fencing Order.
For answers to commonly asked questions, see Frequently Asked Questions.