Have you decided to build a new fence? Did your neighbours decide it’s time for a fence replacement? Let us guide you through everything you need to know to keep both you and your neighbours happy. 

Today we’ll be talking about the Dividing Fences Act for our NSW clients. If you’d like to know more about Australian fencing standards in other states, please send us your questions and we can cover them in our next blog post. 

The Dividing Fences Act 1991

When you’re building a new fence, the first thing you need to do is contact your local council. 

Make sure you have council approval for your new structure and check for local legislation about fencing requirements. Once this is done, it’s time to talk to your neighbours. 

When it comes to collaborating with a neighbour, there is clear legislation and resources you can refer to. This will help you settle disputes according to the law. 

The Dividing Fences Act was published by the NSW government in 1991. It regulates neighbours’ responsibilities towards dividing fences and is designed to help you settle disputes without escalation. 

You can come to your own agreement without the use of the act - this legislation is only needed if there is a dispute. To avoid any trouble, you should decide on the following factors with your neighbour and both parties should sign a written agreement. 

  • height 
  • material 
  • fence position
  • colour 
  • cost + any additional costs 
  • fence removal arrangement

Boundary Fence Rules NSW 

According to the act, “a dividing fence is a fence separating the land of adjoining owners whether or not it is on the common boundary”. 

Liability of Fencing Work 

The act states that: “An adjoining owner is liable, in respect of adjoining lands where there is no sufficient dividing fence, to contribute to the carrying out of fencing work that results or would result in the provision of a dividing fence of a standard not greater than the standard for a sufficient dividing fence.”

If your neighbour wants to upgrade an existing fence to a greater standard, the Dividing Fences Act states that “an adjoining owner who desires to carry out fencing work involving a dividing fence of a standard greater than the standard for a sufficient dividing fence is liable for the fencing work to the extent to which it exceeds the standard for a sufficient dividing fence.” 

If your fence requires urgent work, where a fence has been damaged or destroyed, each adjoining owner is liable for half of the cost. 

If you and your neighbour cannot reach an agreement, you can attend a Community Justice Centre to settle the dispute. If an agreement is not reached within 1 month, you can appeal through the Local Court or the Civil and Administrative Tribunal. 

You can read some case studies about different neighbourly disputes on the State Library of New South Wales website. 

Fence Height Between Neighbours NSW

Residential fences should not exceed 1.8m in height. It is important that you contact your local council to discuss their rules. You can find out more information about fence height regulations on the NSW Planning Portal. 

The best approach to getting a new dividing fence is to do as much homework as possible before the installation process begins.

To have a clear understanding of what is agreed upon and the obligations involved will save time, hassles and costs in the long term.

For more detailed advice, you can always speak to your local Jim’s Fencing team.