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Dividing fences

The laws covering dividing fences can be found under the Dividing Fences Act 1991. Usually, dividing fences do not require Council approval and Council does not adjudicate disputes between neighbours involving dividing fences.

What is a dividing fence?

A dividing fence is a fence that separates the land of adjoining owners. A dividing fence can be a structure, ditch, embankment, a hedge or similar vegetative barrier, a gate or a watercourse. It does not include a retaining wall or the wall of a building.

When is Council approval needed for a dividing fence?

Approval from Council for erecting a dividing fence is only required when the proposed fence fails to meet the criteria specified under State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development) 2008. In general, most dividing fences do not require Council approval.

Who is responsible for dividing fences?

Each owner is responsible in equal proportion for contributing to the provision of a satisfactory dividing fence. However, this is not the case where a dividing fence forms part of swimming pool fencing or the adjoining land is owned by Council or another government authority.

As a general rule, each owner contributes in equal proportion to the cost of providing a boundary fence of a satisfactory standard. Should one owner desire a fence exceeding the satisfactory standard, then that owner is liable to pay all the additional cost associated with construction a higher standard of fence over and above half the cost of a fence of satisfactory standard.

For example an existing timber paling fence needs to be replaced. Neighbour A wants a new paling fence and neighbour B wants to upgrade to a brick fence. Subject to agreement being reached between the neighbours to construct a brick fence, neighbour A is only liable to pay 50% of the cost of a paling fence with the remainder of the costs associated with the brick fence being payable by neighbour B.

What if my adjoining landowner is Council or another government authority?

Councils and other government authorities are not required to contribute to the cost of dividing fences. This means that if you share a boundary with Council or another government authority, you will be solely responsible for the full cost of erecting a dividing fence.

Disputes involving dividing fences

If there is a dispute between neighbours over the type of fence or costs involved, you may seek mediation through a Community Justice Centre, or seek a hearing before a Local Court or the Local Lands Board. Council does not get involved or adjudicate with regards to disputes about dividing fences.

More information about dividing fence disputes can be found on the LawAssist website.

If you require further information regarding dividing fences with property that adjoins Campbelltown City Council owned land please contact our Customer Service team on 02 4645 4000.

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