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Fencing notice

Information about the fencing notice and what to do if the neighbour can’t be found.

If the owners of adjoining properties cannot agree about the construction, repair or replacement of a fence the owner who wants the fencing work done can send a fencing notice to the owner of the adjoining property.

It’s also good idea to speak to the occupier about fence plans first, before issuing this fencing notice.

If someone builds a fence without consulting their neighbour and reaching an agreement or serving them with a fencing notice, the neighbour does not have to contribute to the cost. The owner who was not consulted could also file a complaint in the Magistrates' Court.

Exception for urgent repairs

The neighbour need not send a fencing notice if the fence needed to be repaired or replaced urgently or if the other owner could not be found after making reasonable inquiries.

See The law on building or repairing a fence.

What must be in the fencing notice

This notice must be in writing and must include:

  • the date of the notice
  • the name and contact details of the notifying owner
  • a statement confirming that this is a notice under s. 13 Fences Act 1968
  • the specific boundary to be fenced (including any bits not fenced and if not on boundary, specify where fence will go)
  • a proposal for fencing the boundary
  • details about the kind of fence (for example, height, materials, colour)
  • the name and contact details of anyone who may be hired to do the work
  • a statement saying that either party may seek help from the Dispute Settlement Centre to resolve any disputes about the proposed fencing.

See s. 13(3)—Fences Act 1968 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

If owner wants other party to contribute to cost

If the notifying owner wants the other party to contribute, they have to also include in the fencing notice:

  • an estimate of the cost,
  • the proportion that each party is to contribute and
  • an estimate of the amount that the adjoining owner will have to pay.

See s. 13(3)(h)—Fences Act 1968 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Extra useful information to include

The notice should also state a specific period of time for a response. If the other owner does not respond within 30 days from the date of the notice, the notifying owner can go ahead and construct the fence.

Get a quote for the cost although this is not necessary for a valid notice.

See s. 13—Fences Act 1968 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria.

Can’t locate the owner?

The owner has to make reasonable inquiries to try to locate the adjoining owner. The absent owner's address will usually be registered with the local council. The local council may disclose the name and address of the owner if council is satisfied that the owner wants this information so that they can issue a fencing notice.

See s. 14, 19, 21—Fences Act 1968 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

If absent person returns

If the adjoining owner of the adjoining property returns after the fence-work has started the notifying owner applicant may file a complaint in the Magistrates' Court seeking an order that the adjoining owner contribute.

If the court makes this order the adjoining owner will have to follow the order and contribute by the time that is stated in the order. If no time is stated in the order, the owner must be paid within 3 months of the order. If not paid within this time the first owner may take further action to recover the debt. This can only be done if there has been a substantial failure to comply with the conditions of the order.

See ss. 30C, 30F, 30I—Fences Act 1968 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

More information

Legislation

Fences Act 1968 (Vic)

  • s. 4— definition of owner
  • s. 5—defines 'reasonable inquiries'
  • s. 12—owners must not undertake fencing works unless in accordance with an agreement or under the Fences Act 1968
  • s. 13—procedure for giving a fencing notice
  • s. 19—procedure if adjourning owner has not responded or cannot be found
  • s. 21—recovering contributions from owner of adjoining land after fence-works commence
  • s. 30C—orders about fencing disputes
  • s. 30F—if adjoining owner defaults on agreement or order
  • s. 30I—substantial failure to comply required
  • s. 9—notice to fence when the occupier is not available
  • s. 4—liability of occupiers of adjoining lands to fence despite agreement
  • s. 6—service of notice to fence

See Fences Act 1968 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

References

Dispute Settlement Centre

This free service may help neighbours to reach an agreement about a fence dispute.

See Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria(opens in a new window).

Lawyers Practice Manual

Westlaw's Lawyers Practice Manual has the following information about fences, including a precedent letter to send to a neighbour:

Note: This resource is only available to staff at Victoria Legal Aid.

Updated