Disputes With Neighbours


There are laws in relation to many common areas of dispute between neighbours and of course there is us WE CAN HELP YOU with:

  • fences and trees

  • boundary disputes

  • noise

  • pets

  • injuries on your property

  • others

Boundary Errors

Plans and title documents are tremendously important in deciding the outcome of boundary disputes. Section 272 of the Property Law Act 1958 provides for a small margin of error in the written description of the boundaries of any parcel of land, compared to the surveyed boundaries. The amount being50 millimetres for boundaries shorter than 40.3m, or 1/500th of a boundary longer than 40.3m).

As established in PCH Melbourne v Break Fast Investments [2007] VSC 87, section 272 only serves to ‘introduce flexibility into the dimensions shown on the title documents’ so that minor differences between the physical measurement of the boundary and its representation on the title documents don’t give rise to legal action. It does not affect an owner’s right to sue for an actual physical infringement of the boundary of the property. Thus, building works that encroach onto a neighbouring property by less than 50mm may still be the subject of legal action, including adverse possession claims. If you have questions and issues with your boundaries with your neighbours call us now to learn about your rights and options.

Fencing between houses

If you are a property owner, you and your neighbour have equal responsibility for the dividing fence between your properties.

If the fence needs to be repaired or replaced there are rules about:

  • who pays

  • the type of fence to be built

  • the notices that you need to give one another

  • how to resolve disputes.

Call us to get informed about your rights.1800 765 823

New fences laws

The reasonably new legislation sets out clear rules and procedures on a wide range of common fencing issues, including:

  • where adjoining owners are both required to contribute to the cost of a dividing fence, the owners will generally be required to contribute equally to a sufficient dividing fence;

  • criteria are set out to determine what sort of fence will be considered sufficient based on factors such as any existing fence, the type of fence usual in the neighbourhood and the purposes for which the neighbours are using their land;

  • if an owner wants a more expensive fence than a sufficient fence that owner must pay the extra cost;

  • an owner will be required to first seek the agreement of their neighbour before building a fence, even if they don't want the neighbour to share the cost;

  • rules for carrying out and paying for urgent fencing works;

  • authorising local councils to provide the name and address of an absentee owner so a neighbour can serve a fencing notice;

  • if a neighbouring owner can't be found or doesn't respond to a fencing notice, the other neighbour can proceed with the fence and obtain a court order for the first neighbour's share of the costs;

  • clear rules to answer questions such as which side of the fence the rails and framing should be built on; and

  • procedures for doing a boundary survey if neighbours can't agree on where the common boundary is located.

What should I do if I want to build a dividing fence or if I think mine needs repairing?

Start with an informal chat to your neighbour. If you both agree work needs to be done, on the type of replacement or repair, its placement, the contractor and who’ll pay for it, things will be a whole lot easier. And you probably won’t need us.

If your neighbour doesn’t agree with your proposal, you can’t build or begin repairs on an existing dividing fence until youissue your neighbour a Notice to Fence via registered post and you might very well need us. 


Built a new fence without consulting your neighbour, do they still have to contribute?

No. If you don’t consult first, the other party is not legally obliged to pay anything.

Do I have to use a Notice to Fence?

No, not if you agree on everything. If they want to formalise this agreement many people simply sign the agreed quote for the job.

However, if you don’t use a Notice to Fence, it’s harder to prove you and your neighbour had an agreement if something goes wrong. Also, without a Notice to Fence any dispute will be settled under contract law and not the Fences Act. This makes it a lot harder to resolve a dispute.

What if my neighbour ignores my Notice to Fence?

If they don’t respond within 30 days, you can proceed with the fencing works without their agreement and later take action in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria to recover their contribution. Contact us to find out more.

What if my neighbour responds to my Notice to Fence and doesn’t agree to the works?

You can’t proceed. You can either negotiate an agreement or wait 30 days after they received the notice and then initiate an action in the Magistrates’ Court, call us now to find out more. 

Overhanging branches

Property owners are responsible for branches that overhang a neighbour’s fence or roots that grow onto neighbouring property. If these cause damage or affect the neighbour’s enjoyment of their property, the neighbour can take the property owner to court. If branches from your neighbour’s trees hang over your side of the fence, you can cut off the offending branches and place them on the neighbour's side of the fence. If you want to find out you full rights call us now.

Call For Your Free Initial Consultation 1800 765 823