NSW Who is Responsible for Replacing the Retaining Wall?

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Chris Jones

4 June 2016
We own a property (built in the 70's) that is on a bit of a slope. Our neighbours behind have a nice flat backyard thanks to a retaining wall that sits on the boundary between us (they are uphill from us). I believe that our property is the original slope of the land and the adjoining properties suggest that I am correct.

The retaining wall is very old and was built prior to either us or our neighbours buying our properties. The wall is not constructed properly (I am not a licensed builder but you decide - hollow cement blocks with no re-enforcing, concrete fill or concrete footings) and approximately 1.5m high at its highest point. The neighbours have a large tree on their boundary and the wall has now started to lean out towards us adjacent to the tree. A recent survey has the wall footings crossing the boundary from entirely on our side at one end to entirely on their side at the other end.

I am concerned that if it collapses, we will have a very large tree through our roof and we could end up with their backyard in ours. We would be prepared to cover up to 50% of the costs but they are claiming it is our responsibility entirely.

I have done a little research and have found that;

"Since 2008, under amendments to the Dividing Fences Act 1991, section 3, an adjoining owner can seek a contribution for the carrying out of work to a retaining wall where the wall is necessary for the support and maintenance of a dividing fence." Retaining walls | Neighbours and the law

Can anyone shed any more light on our situation?


LawConnect (LawTap) Verified
27 May 2014
Generally the owner who altered the slope of the land is responsible for 100%. If land level is altered on both sides, then both parties contribute. You may need old plans to work out who altered the land, or have a survey done.

And if their tree is knocking over the wall, they are responsible for the damage it does.