Fencing and overhanging plants are just some of the issues that can lead to disputes between neighbours. The laws relating to fences cover such things as acceptable heights, materials and sharing of costs. These laws are outlined in The Fences Act 1968 (Victoria), which regulates the building of fences in Victoria.
Generally, fences must be built along the boundary and in consultation with neighbours. In most cases, the cost of the fence is split equally. However, if one neighbour wants a bigger or more expensive fence then the split of costs can vary and it’s up to the two parties to reach an agreement.
The common solution, in this case, is for the neighbour who didn’t want the more expensive fence to pay half the cost of a normal fence and the neighbour wanting the more expensive fence pays the difference.
It is always best to discuss the fence with your neighbours but if you can’t, then provide your neighbour with a written notice in accordance with the Fences Act.
There are other laws which may apply to fences, such as Building Regulations 1994, as well as the Local Planning Scheme. Prior to building a new fence, it would be wise to check with the local council to see what planning and building permits you may require.
Plants and trees that hang over the fence to the neighbour’s side can also cause disputes. To avoid conflict it is a good idea to keep your plants on your side of the fence. If they overhang the neighbours are within their rights to cut them back. Although it may seem rude, they are also within their rights to throw the cuttings back over the fence.
To avoid resentment it is advisable to talk to your neighbours before you take to the overhanging plants with a chainsaw.
Take a sensible approach with your neighbours and try to maintain goodwill because once this is gone it can become very difficult and costly to resolve disputes.