Council & Legal Requirements

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CCouncils through their District Plans, the Building Act 2004 and the Local Government Act 1974, control the height, safety and in certain situations the set-back, landscaping and construction materials of fences and retaining walls The Fencing Act 1978 sets out the obligations and rights of land owners in relation to the fencing of their property, for example, minimum quality of fencing, cost sharing, and dispute processes.


Walls & building consents

AA Building Consent is required for any retaining wall that is:

  • Higher than 1.5 metres, or
  • Less than 1.5 metres, but is load-bearing (such as a parking area or weight of a bank above the wall).

Even walls which do not require a Building Consent must comply with the requirements of the Building Code and District Plan bylaws, such as including soakage drains behind any proposed retaining wall.

Each Council has rules pertaining to fences (e.g. fence heights, colours, placement, and zoning) within the District Plan.  The Planning Unit of your local Council can supply details of the District Plan.


Fences & building consents

TThe following fences require a Building Consent and/or Resource Consent before you build a fence/wall:

  • Any fence, hoarding, or wall over 2.5 metres in height, regardless of construction materials
  • Any retaining wall that supports a depth of ground of more than 1.5 metres deep or that supports any additional load such as buildings or the weight of vehicles
  • Any fence on top of or a part of a retaining wall.  If the whole is over 2 metres, but less than 3 metres, you will also need your neighbour’s consent.  If the overall height is greater than 3 metres, the fence/retaining wall may encroach on residential heights and Resource Consent will be needed


Fencing Act Requirements

IIn general:

  • All boundary fences must be on the boundary lines.
  • A Building Consent is required for any fence greater than 2.5 metres in height (from supporting ground level)
  • Adjoining owners share the cost of putting up or repairing a fence to an adequate standard (note – this provision does not apply to fences on road boundaries)
  • However, if one owner has damaged the fence then the cost of repairs will fall on that owner
  • You can obtain a compulsory contribution to the cost of fencing from your neighbour
  • Under the Property Law Act 1952 an occupier of a residential property may apply to the District Court for an order to remove or alter a fence when the fence is detrimentally affecting the neighbour’s land or causing any undue obstruction of a view


Further Information

FFor further advice in relation to the Fencing Act please contact a lawyer or staff at your nearest Community Law Centre or Citizens Advice Bureau.

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