Fences and fencing work create a lot of issues and disputes between neighbours which can be very costly, time consuming and stressful to resolve.
Sharing Cost between Neighbours
A neighbour has no legal obligation to contribute to the cost of fencing work unless they have agreed to pay or the Fences Act 1975 (SA) procedure has been followed, or urgent repairs are required.
As a general rule it will be assumed that each neighbour receives an equal benefit from the fence and therefore should contribute equally to costs. There is no strict formula used by the courts to determine the sharing of costs between neighbours. However, where it can be shown that one owner wants a better than adequate and the adjoining owner is happy with an adequate fence, the owner requesting the more expensive fence may have to pay the difference in cost between the two options.
What Happens When You and Your Neighbour Could Not Agree on the Work and Cost?
If you and your neighbour do not agree on the work and cost of the fence, you will need use the Fences Act 1975 (SA) notice procedure. The procedure under the Fences Act for obtaining approval and contribution to the cost of a new fence, or repairs to an existing fence is as follows:
1. Depending on the type of work you are proposing there are different forms to be used – “Notice of Intention to erect a fence” (in the case of a new fence) or a “Notice of Intention to perform remedial, repair or maintenance work” (in the case of repair work).
2. Your neighbour then has 30 days in which to serve a “Cross Notice” on you in response either objecting to the proposal and whether to raise any counter proposals. If you do not agree with what is proposed in the Cross Notice, you can then serve a “Counter Notice” rejecting the Cross Notice, or do nothing, in which case the proposal made in the Cross Notice becomes binding on both neighbours.
3. It is fundamental to the operation of the Fences Act notice procedure that a landowner is deemed to have agreed to a proposal (or counter proposal) if an objection in writing is not served within the 30 days. Both neighbours are then normally bound by the terms of that notice including the amount of money that each must pay.
4. If an agreement is reached via the exchange of notices, the neighbour who initiated the notice process can then build the fence and recover the agreed contribution from their neighbour. However, the permission of your neighbour to enter the land and build the fence is still needed.
If you would like to find out more about good neighbour fences and your rights and options, Straits Lawyers are here to help. Simply send us an email at email@example.com or give us a call on 8410 9069 to arrange an appointment for an interview.
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Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice and Straits Lawyers will not be legally responsible for any actions you take based on this article.