Brought to you by neighbourly.co.nz Thinking about building a new fence?
Sometimes it’s easier said than done and it’s not usually a decision you can make on your own.
What you can and can’t do is pretty clear under the Fencing Act 1978 if you share a fence with neighbours.
The act is black and white – stating categorically that all affected neighbours should split the bill for an ‘‘adequate’’ boundary fence that is ‘‘reasonably satisfactory’’.
That means it’s high time for a chat if your neighbour wants to erect a gold-plated fence but you think a classic wooden model would do the job just as well.
It’s essential to discuss shared boundary fencing plans before you get too far ahead of yourself.
All going well, both parties will agree to split the bill down the middle and that’s the end of the story.
But there is an official process to follow if someone objects to the proposal.
A ‘fencing notice’ (see the Fencing Act for a template) gives both parties room to appeal and negotiate.
An official fencing notice should state that it’s served under the Fencing Act 1978; include the full name and addresses of all the people affected; the type of boundary fence you want to build; who will build it, how much it will cost, and when construction will start.
It also needs to give your neighbours 21 days to formally object to the proposal and the chance, if they don’t want to help pay for it, to say who should and why.
The notice should also clearly state that if your neighbours don’t come back to you within 21 days they agree to the proposal by default, effectively lose their right to complain and will have to split the cost as proposed.
A neighbour objecting to your proposal or not wanting a new fence should serve you with a crossnotice, outlining exactly why they object, suggesting alternative options, and reaching you within 21 days.
The point of the fence notice process is to get both parties’ objections out on the table in order to come up with a solution that everyone agrees on.