Neighbours Sharing A Fence – Who Owns It?

Being a fence owner, you have various responsibilities. Also, when the fence divides you and your neighbour, do you know who owns the fence? Let’s find out.

To find out more, let’s take a look at the fencing law in Victoria.

There is an act called the Fences Act. It contains rules concerning the fence dividing the neighbours land. Some of those rules are: who pays for the fence and the fence repairs, who makes the decision when it comes to choosing the fencing type to be installed, or how to solve a fencing dispute.

Firstly, let’s define what a dividing fence is. A dividing fence is a fence that has been built to separate two lots of adjoint land. In most cases, the fence has been built on the common boundary between those lands, but it may happen that it is not the case, and the fence is on one of the neighbour’s sides. The reason might be that the common boundary line has an obstruction in the way and the fence cannot be installed. Hence, the need to shift it on one of the neighbour’s sides.

Who owns the fence?Who owns the fence? to the Fence Act, the owners and not the occupants own the fence and are liable for it. The fence is seen as an improvement to the land that benefits the owner.

The Fence Act is a legal guide to turn to when it comes to fencing matters between neighbours. If all the details have been agreed upon, such as who does what and pays what amount, then there is no need to refer to the Fence Act.

If that is not the case, the Fences Act will help you out.

If talking to your neighbour informally hasn’t resulted in an agreement regarding the fence between your properties, you need to apply the Fences Act. You need to agree on the basic details. For example, what kind of fencing type are you going to install, fencing specialist who is going to get the fencing work done and how are you going to divide the fencing costs amongst each other. It’s a relatively straight forward process if you have agreed on the above details, but if you haven’t, you cannot go ahead with the fence installation without your neighbour’s approval.

What to do if you didn’t get the approval? There is a document that will assist you. It’s called a fencing notice. It contains all the information about the fencing work you as the initiating neighbour are proposing.

A fencing note can be given to your neighbour in person or by post. It has to include the following:

  1. The fencing line (where to fencing works will be performed)
  2. The type of fencing work
  3. Who is responsible for undertaking the fencing works (fencing contractor)
  4. The cost of the fencing installation (an estimate)
  5. The contribution of each neighbour towards the fencing works

What if you passed on the fencing note, but didn’t get any response from your neighbour? What if he or she just decided to ignore you? Your neighbour has 30 days to come back to you, if he or she doesn’t, you can go ahead with the fencing works. Later on, you can bring it to the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria to recover the neighbour’s contribution.

It’s a hustle, therefore, it may be a good idea to check in with your neighbour once again to see what are their thoughts on the dividing fence.

It may also happen that you cannot get a hold of your neighbour to pass on the fencing note. What to do then? You need to give your best efforts to find the neighbour. If after all your inquiries you haven’t been able to locate the neighbour, you can go ahead with your planned fencing works. Be aware, as when it comes to claiming the contributions from the neighbour who didn’t receive the fencing notice as you weren’t able to locate them, you will need the Magistrates’ Court order.

If you and your neighbour have come to an agreement and need to install or repair a steel fence, you can turn to us, to Diamond Fence. We can help you out with Melbourne steel fencing.

Give us a call on (03) 9753 4566, shoot us an email on, or just get a FREE online fencing quote.