Neigh­bours at war on pay­ing for fence

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

Paul’s neigh­bours de­cided to build a fence be­tween their prop­erty and his, and he let them know he was happy for that to hap­pen.

While they were at it, they re­moved a small re­tain­ing wall on their side of the fence. They for­warded the builder’s bill to Paul and asked that he pay half of it.

Paul won­ders what he was legally re­quired to pay for, be­cause he had agreed to pay for half of the fence, but didn’t know that that would in­clude re­moval of a re­tain­ing wall.

Is­sues be­tween neigh­bours can cause ma­jor headaches if they get out of hand.

In many cases, your neigh­bour has to con­trib­ute to the cost of a new fence.

What is re­quired is an ‘‘ad­e­quate’’ fence. You should al­ways try to reach agree­ment with your neigh­bour be­fore you have a new fence built.

How­ever, if your neigh­bour will not agree to what you pro­pose, you must fol­low the re­quire­ments of the Fenc­ing Act. Th­ese are:

You must give your neigh­bour a fenc­ing no­tice.

This must set out clearly the bound­ary to be fenced, the type of fence, who will build it, what it will cost and when the work will start.

The no­tice must also ex­plain that the neigh­bour has 21 days to ob­ject or to make any counter-pro­pos­als.

If your neigh­bours don’t want a new fence they will have to give you a cross no­tice, say­ing why they ob­ject to the fence be­ing built.

Then, if agree­ment can­not be reached, the mat­ter will have to be dealt with by the Dis­putes Tri­bunal or the Dis­trict Court.

If your neigh­bours have dam­aged the fence, they can­not force you con­trib­ute to the cost of re­pairs.

The neigh­bour who caused the dam­age is li­able to re­pair the fence and pay for the re­pair costs.

The Fenc­ing Act sets out spec­i­men types of fence for ur­ban and ru­ral bound­aries.

Ur­ban fences in­clude post and rail fences, close-bor­dered fences, pal­ing fences, panel fences and ma­sonry walls.

In the above ex­am­ple, Paul does not have to pay for the re­tain­ing wall, even though he agreed to the fence.

The re­moval of the re­tain­ing wall was not his de­ci­sion and was solely for the neigh­bour’s ben­e­fit. Paul agreed to pay half of the fence and that was all.

He is not li­able to pay for the re­moval of the neigh­bour’s wall.

Usu­ally some rea­son­able dis­cus­sion be­tween you should re­sult in an agreed so­lu­tion or com­pro­mise, but it pays to know your rights be­fore you agree to any­thing.

Col­umn cour­tesy of Rainey Collins Lawyers, phone 0800 733 484.

If you have a le­gal in­quiry you would like dis­cussed in this col­umn, email your query to aknowsley@ rain­ey­collins.co.nz.

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