One of the most common legal disputes is between neighbours over boundary fences. In Tasmania the Boundary Fences Act ('Act') will apply if the neighbours can't resolve the dispute between themselves.
In general, the Act requires that both you and your neighbour share the cost (ie half each) in relation to the repair, maintenance or construction of a shared fence.
Crown or Forestry Land
There are exceptions to the general rule that each party shares the costs. If your land borders on:
then you must pay the entire cost in relation to the repair, maintenance or construction of a shared fence.
It is the owner of the land and not the tenant that is responsible for the repair, maintenance or construction of a shared fence.
What should I do if a boundary fence needs to be repaired or replaced?
If works need to be taken out on a boundary fence you should speak to your neighbour amicably and try to come to an arrangement about the finances and labour associated with the works. Agreements can be made orally or in writing, however it is strongly recommended that where possible, you get the agreement in writing. Nothing complex is required - a simple statement of what is agreed that is signed and dated is better than a verbal agreement (or nothing!).
Depsite the best of intentions, there will be instances when problems arise and it may be difficult to obtain a neighbour's consent to fence repairs or replacement.
Either you or a neighbour can serve a notice asking the other to contribute equally to the cost of works on the shared fence. There are two types of notices:
If the party receiving the notice does not agree to the arrangements proposed, they can object to the notice in writing, setting out the reasons for the objections.
Disputes will generally be referred to alternative forms of dispute resolution if they cannot be resolved between the parties first. As a last resort it may be appropriate for a party to sue the other party in Court, for example if a neighbour refuses to pay their proportion of the costs.
What if my neighbour refuses to communicate?
If a neighbour does not reply to a notice issued in accordance with the Act within 30 days, then you can replace or fix the fence and charge your neighbour for half the cost of the works.
What if my neighbour refuses to pay after the fence is repaired or built?
You should try and reach agreement with your neighbour, however if you cannot reach an agreement then the dispute will go to arbirtration.
Things to consider
For more information or if you require any assistance in relation to boundary fence issues, please contact us on 03 6332 9353 or complete our simple form that can be found at http://www.cormistonlegal.com.au/contact
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