The Dividing Fences Act 1961 (the Act)
A dividing fence, as defined in the Act, is a fence that separates the land of different owners whether the fence is on the common boundary of adjoining land or on a line other than the common boundary. A dividing fence does not include a retaining wall.
The Act does not apply to the Crown or to land used for public purposes such as roads and paths under the control of local governments. If your property adjoins such land you cannot compel a contribution to the cost of a fence however, you still need to comply with the guidelines as set out by your local government regarding a sufficient fence.
The Act provides that owners of adjoining lands are each liable to pay half the cost of erecting or repairing a ‘sufficient fence’ between their properties. The owner of a vacant block can defer making a contribution until that owner makes use of the block, typically by building on it.
If you wish to claim half the cost of erecting a fence and avoid any disputes over payment, you should approach the owner of the adjoining land to discuss your proposal and reach an agreement.
If you do not know the name and address of the adjoining owner, the rates section of your local government may provide this information, alternatively you may wish to arrange a land title search through Landgate.
An owner or owners of adjoining land are liable to pay even if they were not the owners of the land when the fence was constructed and no previous adjoining owners have paid a claim to the owner who erected the fence.