Tips for preventing Boundary Disputes with Your Neighbours

Tips for preventing Boundary Disputes with Your Neighbours

Woman smiling over garden fence

Have you ever had a dispute with a neighbour over land boundaries? An argument over your back fence, literally? Boundary disputes remain one of the most common, and frustrating, conflicts for property owners in Queensland. But with proper planning and consideration, it can be avoided.

We’ve put together some helpful tips and advice for you to consider if you’ve found yourself in the middle of a neighbourhood conflict, or if you’d just like to prevent one in the first place!

Know Exactly What Qualifies as a Fence

Knowing what exactly can be defined as a ‘fence’ is half your battle. Because it doesn’t always have to be a row of posts or panels.

For Queensland property owners, a fence is any structure that encloses an area of land – that could indeed be a traditional fence, but it could also be a hedge, ditch, cattle grid, gate, or even a creek. Moreover, it doesn’t have to run the whole way around the area; it can just make up part of it.

If you’ve been arguing over whether your boundaries are properly marked, knowing what constitutes as a fence could help you out.

Who Should Pay for a Fence?

This is usually the core of the boundary dispute issue, because money is involved – who should pay for a fence that both parties use?

How do you decide which fence to have? Who will keep it properly maintained? If the fence is being built to keep your neighbour’s dogs inside, shouldn’t they pay for it? Endless questions, and causes for conflict!

Here are the facts: if you want to build a fence between your 2 properties, you’ll need to provide your neighbour with ‘a notice to fence’. This is a written letter outlining the proposed fence, details of its materials and structure, and how much it’s estimated to cost – including the costs to them. Because you and your neighbour are liable to pay for half the cost of the fence, under Queensland law.

You should provide at least 2 quotes obtained from different builders as a courtesy. Your neighbour has the right to obtain an alternative quote themselves if they’d like to.

If the roles are reversed and you’ve been given a notice to fence, these same regulations will protect you. Seek out different quotes if you think your neighbour’s quote is too high.

You and your neighbour can also agree to divide the cost differently, if one of you requires a particular type of fence that is more than the sufficient dividing fence that’s been proposed. For example, if you propose a fence and your neighbour wants it built higher for a specific reason, they can contribute more to the cost. And on the other foot, if it’s you that wants a specific kind of material for your own aesthetics, you can pay more than your standard half share.

Who Owns a Fence Between 2 Neighbours?

Now, once the fence has been built between your 2 properties, just who owns it?

In Queensland, a fence that divides 2 properties is owned equally by both neighbours – as long as it’s built on the common boundary line. If the fence is built on you or your neighbour’s land it is owned by the person whose land it’s on.

Sometimes fences have to be designed around the topography of the land, to accommodate for certain trees or boulders on the boundary line, for example. Be careful when building a fence that you stick to the common boundary line as much as possible, to avoid any potential disputes in the future.

If you’re having trouble with a neighbour over common fences or land boundaries, or you’d just like to prevent boundary disputes from happening in the first place, a registered land surveyor and qualified property development consultant can help you.

Queenslanders can contact Arnold Development Consultants (ADC) for professional advice on all property matters, backed with over 50 years of experience in the industry.