Do you have a fence? Check your local fencing laws

The Fences Amendment Act 2014 (Amendment), which came into effect on Monday 22 September 2014, has replaced the fencing laws previously enacted by the Fences Act 1968.

Read on for some of the changes that might affect you.

What is a dividing fence?

This is a fence erected to separate two pieces of adjoining land, and may or may not be on the common boundary between the pieces of land. Its position depends on what is agreed between neighbours, and might be erected away from the common boundary if, for example, erection along the common boundary is made impractical by an obstruction such as a waterway.

What isn’t a dividing fence?

Retaining walls or any wall that is part of a house, garage or other building, a not a dividing fence. Practically, the existence and positioning of these barriers may mean that a dividing fence isn’t required.

What if you need to repair or erect a dividing fence?

If both you and your respective neighbour agree that this kind of work needs to be done, you might not need to follow the process called for in the Amendment. Try to negotiate the type of fence, the contractor to be employed, where the dividing fence will go and how cost of the works will be paid. If you both agree, the fencing works may begin!

If you don’t reach an agreement, you must give your neighbour a notice that contains information about the work you are proposing, known as a “fencing notice” (Notice), prior to starting the works. A Notice is a formal document that includes information about the dividing line, the type of works to be carried out, the person employed to carry out the works, cost estimation and contribution amounts. A copy of the Notice may be available here.

Hand the fencing notice to your neighbour, or deliver it by post. If 30 days have passed without your neighbour’s response to the Notice, you may proceed with the fencing works and recover their contribution later by bringing an action in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

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Find our more about fencing laws in Victoria here.