Under the Fences Act 1968 the property owner and the neighbour are equally responsible for any dividing fence. The Act outlines:
- who’ll pay for it
- what type to build
- what notices to send each other
- how to resolve disputes.
If you have a fencing issue, navigate to the appropriate section on the right.
Fencing in Victoria
If you want to replace or repair the boundary fence, you or your neighbour need to reach an agreement or have a Magistrate decide for you.
Here’s some helpful information:
- Boundary fences are joint property, whether on the boundary or not, and so both neighbours have the same rights and obligations.
- Generally, the building or repairing costs are split 50/50. But this depends on —
- whether the fence needs replacing
- if one party wants a different or more expensive fence
- if one party has damaged the fence.
- Typically, the new fence should be built the same as the old one. If one party wants something different they have to pay the extra cost. But both parties must agree.
- The local council (External link) only gets involved if the new fence breaches planning regulations — usually in relation to height. Call them before building anything to ensure you are not breaking any laws.
- The local council is not there to resolve your dispute. That’s done in the local Magistrates’ Court.
- You need your neighbour’s consent, or to have followed the right legal process, before any building or repairing. If you don’t, you won’t be able to recover building or repair costs.
- If you and your neighbour can’t agree, you can take it to the local Magistrates’ Court (External link). Until then no one can be forced to do anything.
How can I resolve my fencing dispute?
If you can’t agree over a fencing issue, try to negotiate a solution. If that fails, consider the following steps:
- Get one or more quotes from a licensed fencing contractor so you can negotiate over a practical figure.
- Find out your neighbour’s concerns over an informal chat. Ask yourself:
- “Have I really listened to them and tried to come up with a solution?”
- “What am I willing to negotiate over?”
- “Is there a different way to resolve this?”
- Send a Notice to Fence via registered post with one or more quotes. This is a formal document outlining a proposal to repair or replace a fence. You can download one here. Once they get it, your neighbour has 30 days to respond. If they agree, you can build as per your proposal. If not, you need to negotiate a solution. If they don’t respond at all after 30 days you can build the fence and then begin an action in the Magistrates’ Court to recover your neighbour’s share of the cost.
- Speak to us about mediation. It’s free, confidential and we work with parties to help them resolve their disputes without the need to go to court. You can get in touch with a Dispute Assessment Officer via our contact page.
- Please note: our officers can’t give legal advice. For independent legal advice talk to the Federation of Community Legal Centres (External link) or the Law Institute of Victoria (External link).
To find out more
- To try mediation or to speak to a Dispute Assessment Officer, call 1300 372 888 or visit our contact page.
- Check out our FAQs about fences.
- Download a Notice to Fence form.
The following resources may also help in resolving a dispute:
- The Law Handbook of Victoria (External link) offers a wide range of information for resolving neighbourhood disputes.
- Neighbours, the law and you (External link) covers many neighbourhood issues and complaints
- Check out Everyday Law (External link).
- Visit the Law Institute of Victoria (External link), Federation of Community Legal Centres (External link), or the Victoria Legal Aid (External link) websites for further legal advice and information.