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When fences divide friendships, not just properties.

Disputes with our neighbours are often the most emotionally draining and upsetting. Considering we see our neighbours every other day, keeping the peace is definitely a priority.

As a Commercial Litigation solicitor, I am seeing more and more disputes arise that concern dividing fences, which can sadly force families to sell up and ship out to find new homes.

Disputes which may have been avoided with some careful negotiating and knowledge of the requirements of the Dividing Fences Act 1991 (NSW) include:

• You and your neighbour have agreed that it is time for a new fence. You have obtained quotes for the construction of the fence and preparation of the land as you live on a very uneven block of land. Your neighbour does not want to pay for the cost of preparing the land for the construction of the fence as he thinks he can just do it himself and that you should pay him. You do not like this idea as your neighbour is not qualified.

• A fellow neighbour wants to put up a new fence, however you do not think the new fence is necessary. Your fellow neighbour has provided you with quotes and now wants you to pay half the cost.

• Your fence has been damaged by your neighbour’s son smashing his new car into it. Your neighbour says that the fence was pretty old anyway and thinks you should pay for half the cost of a new fence. You do not agree as the fence was only five years old. A dispute arises as to who is to pay for the new fence.

• You and your neighbour have agreed that a new fence is required on the property, however your neighbour wants to keep costs down and is only prepared to pay for half the cost of a wire post fence. You live in a residential area and do not think this type of fence is appropriate.

Knowledge of the relevant legislation and the requirements in place surrounding dividing fences in New South Wales may assist in avoiding the type of disputes mentioned above. Furthermore, it may assist in maintaining a civil relationship with your neighbours which is definitely something you want to try and do!

For further information, contact the Commercial Litigation Team