Lease on Napier to Gisborne rail line offered to HBRC
The onus is on the landowner to show that their fence is reasonable for the purposes for which it is being used and the stock that it is containing.
If you are farming or grazing large or boisterous animals it is your responsibility to ensure that the fencing is sufficient for the type of stock you are carrying. For example, deer fences are quite different from fences designed to keep in sheep.
• A subdividing landowner claiming that a two-wire electric fence with widely spaced posts was sufficient for the purposes of a boundary fence between a dairy operation and a sheep farm.
• The adequacy of an historic fence over which one landowner's heifer calf kept escaping, although it was suitable for the other's grazing sheep.
• A patch of virtually impassable gorse being viewed by one
owner as an adequate boundary fence. RECENT CASES Recent disputes which have arisen over fences include:
Landowners must be aware of their liabilities and responsibilities. Escaping stock affects not only neighbouring landowners but also the wider community if the escaped stock cause an accident that results in damage or a fatality. Farm owners and lifestyle block owners are well advised to ensure that they hold public liability insurance to protect against the liabilities arising from these risks. Large animals, which are frequently darkly coloured, don't mix well with high speed vehicles travelling on empty dark roads.
The Fencing Act states that in the country, as in town, the cost for an adequate boundary fence is to be shared equally by the two landowners. If, however, one neighbour requires a fence in excess of what is adequate it would be the responsibility of that neighbour to meet the costs above what would be reasonable.
The process for building a new fence would usually be by agreement with your neighbour. You both need to agree on the type of fence and its materials, its location (if the exact location of the boundary is an issue), who is going to do the work and how the costs are to be divided.
If you and your neighbour can't agree, or one of you refuses to contribute, the legislation provides that one of you can serve a Fencing Act Notice to the other detailing the requirements and details of the proposed fence and the starting date for construction.
The landowner being served with the notice, in turn, has the right to oppose the proposed fence if they believe the current fence is adequate or, if they disagree with the type of fence proposed, to offer a counter-proposal as to a suitable fence.
If you're proposing to issue, or if you receive, a Fencing Act Notice, talk with your lawyer as if you don't issue a notice correctly it may be void. If you don't respond to a notice in a timely manner this may result in a default acceptance of the new fence.
If, however, neither of you can reach agreement then there's the option to apply to the court for an order for the construction of a fence. This is a last resort, and a somewhat drastic and expensive outcome for good neighbour relations. If the fence looks like being a problem, get in touch with your lawyer early on.