If you or your neighbour would like to replace the boundary fence, you will need to negotiate with each other in order to try and reach agreement. Here are some general principles that you should apply when thinking about fencing matters in Victoria:
- Boundary fences are considered joint property, whether they are built on the boundary or not. This means that both neighbours have the same rights and obligations as each other when it comes to fencing matters.
- Generally, the costs associated with building or repairing a fence are shared 50/50 between you and your neighbour. However, this assumption may change depending on several factors:
- Whether the fence actually needs to be replaced,
- If one party wants a different or more expensive fence, or
- If one party has caused damage to the fence.
- Typically, a fence is replaced like-for like (the same as it was before). If one party would prefer a different fence, they would typically pay any extra cost associated with the different fence. They will still need to negotiate with the other party to have the fence changed.
- Your local council will only get involved if your new fence breaches planning regulations. These are usually in regards to the height of the structure. You should call your local council to ensure you are complying with all relevant regulations before building. However, the council will not assist you to resolve a dispute.
- Parties will need to obtain the consent of their neighbour or have followed the process outlined in legislation before building or repairing the fence. If you do not obtain consent and do not follow the correct process, it is unlikely you will be able to recover the costs from the other party.
- If parties cannot come to their own agreement, they will need to seek an order from a Magistrate in their local Magistrates’ Court. Parties cannot be forced to do anything until there is a court order or direction in place.
Next page: How can I resolve my fencing dispute?