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Property Law - Getting Neighbour to Pitch in for a Fence?

Discussion in 'Property Law Forum' started by Sophie N, 9 April 2014.

  1. Sophie N

    Sophie N Member

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    I have a property law question: I’m in the Melbourne suburbs and the fence between my house and my neighbour’s house is falling to bits. This is not great as both of us have children and animals (the dogs wandering are a big concern!). I would like to get a new fence put up that is safe and also gives us proper privacy from each other. I had a quick chat to my neighbours to raise the issue, but they basically said they don’t want to spend any money. What can I do to get them to contribute to building a new fence, or at least repairing the old one?
     
  2. Julia B

    Julia B Member

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    The Fences Act in Victoria states that the owners of houses on adjoining properties are jointly responsible for the cost of repairing/replacing their boundary fence.

    Try to reach an agreement with your neighbour again – raise your concerns, why the fence replacement is needed and try to clarify cost, perhaps get a couple of quotes to run by them and if you’d really like to get the more expensive one, you could offer to pay extra. Hopefully that will resolve things in a friendly manner.

    However, if you still can’t resolve the matter, there is a formal process in the Fences Act that you can go down.

    The first step is to serve your neighbour with a Notice to Fence. This is a formal written notice asking your neighbour to share the cost of the fence.

    Make sure it specifies the boundary to be fenced, the type of fence that you propose (so the length, height, materials and colours) and the cost breakdown that each of you would share. Its best practice that you include two quotes and let your neighbour know which quote you propose to accept. If your neighbour agreed, then you would go forward in line with what was detailed in the Notice.

    However, if you still can’t agree one month from the date you served the Notice, you can ask the Magistrates Court to decide the dispute by completing the Complaint (fencing dispute) Form 5A.

    Before, or at the same time as, going down the formal legal route, consider contacting the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria for a free and confidential mediation service. They may be able to help facilitate an agreement between you and your neighbour in a manner that will preserve an amicable relationship between you. If your neighbour doesn’t attend the mediation, the mediation fails or breaches the agreement, your only alternative is to take your matter to the Magistrates Court.

    It would be wise to get legal advice before taking things to court.
     
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  3. Sophie N

    Sophie N Member

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    Many thanks Julia - The more formal approach worked and we've managed to come to an agreement based on the more reasonable quote we were able to get for a new fence.
    Both of us neighbours are finally happy and it avoids the stressful situations for both of us - so glad its sorted and without needing to go to court!
     

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