In Queensland, disputes about dividing fences are covered under ‘The Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act of 2011. Disputes between neighbours regarding dividing fences are quite common, and they typically arise due to disagreements about fence repair, maintenance, or construction.
Who is responsible?
Owners of adjoining properties are equally responsible for all aspects of the fence that separates them. Both the owners share ownership of a fence if it is constructed exactly on the common boundary line between the properties. If a fence is not on the specified common line, then it technically belongs to the owner on whose land it is regardless of its purpose. Find out where the common boundary line exactly is before proceeding with construction. If a part of the fence is on your neighbour’s land, it belongs to your neighbour irrespective of who paid for it.
What are the basic rules for fence construction?
The first step is to write to your neighbour/s specifying the kind of fence you seek to construct, the area of the common boundary, and the estimated cost of construction along with the proposed method of building it. The written notice is known as a ‘notice to contribute for fencing work’. Your notice will need to contain a minimum of one written estimate of what the fence is likely to cost. You will also need to mention what proportion of the fence’s construction cost you would expect your neighbour to undertake. Under Queensland law, both the neighbours are each liable for half the cost of the fence that separates their adjacent property so, provided the fence lies directly on the dividing line between the two properties.
How do I settle a fence dispute?
If you have a dispute with your neighbour that both of you are unable to settle, you can opt to settle the dispute through mediation. The Department of Justice and Attorney-General allows residents to settle disputes through its Dispute Resolution Branch for free without involving any formal legal action.
If you and the other party are unable to agree on mediation or are still in dead lock despite mediation, you can either apply to the Queensland Magistrates Court or the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal. You need to have served a ‘notice to fence’ in order to apply to the Magistrates Court or QCAT for dispute resolution