Process D: Repairing an existing fence
Step one: Negotiate with your neighbour
An agreement between neighbours has priority over the requirements of the Act so it is best to approach the owner of the adjoining land first.
The Act does not specify the requirements for obtaining quotes, however, having quotes and a clear understanding of the costs can assist with obtaining a mutual agreement.
Informal discussions are a good starting point, but agreements in writing and signed by both parties removes any ambiguity and gives both owners a clear understanding of what has been agreed to. The written agreement can also be used if the matter is disputed at a mediation or comes before the courts.
If you are unable to locate the adjoining owner you will need to seek independent legal advice.
Step two: Determine how costs will be divided
Generally, when a dividing fence is in need of repair, realignment or re-erection, the owners of the land on each side of the fence are liable to contribute equal proportions of the costs of those repairs. This also applies to land that is vacant.
If the dividing fence was built partly by one neighbour, and partly by the other neighbour, either neighbour is responsible for the cost of repairing the part of the fence he or she built. Other exceptions are mentioned in the section ‘Repairing an existing fence where damage is caused by a natural act or by one owner’s actions’.
Step three: Issue written notice
- repair the fence and pay half the cost if the other owner will also pay half the cost;
- permit the other owner to repair the fence and you will pay half the cost; or
- pay half the cost of having the fence repaired by a third party.
Step four: Applying to court
If the adjoining neighbour has disputed the need for the repairs and is not prepared to pay any of the costs or objects to the type of repair or boundary line where the repairs would be carried out, you can apply for an order to be made through the Magistrates Court.
Magistrates Court website: www.magistratescourt.wa.gov.au
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