Before building a boundary fence or considering repairs to an existing fence, it is necessary to discuss your plans with affected neighbours. It is important to consult and reach agreement with neighbours regarding the type of boundary fence, who will do the wok, how much it is expected to cost, and how costs will be shared. In most cases all parties involved will look forward to getting a new fence and agreement is easily reached.
Depending on the type of fence you will also need to decide which side of the fence faces which property, or if the fence design allows for both sides to appear the same. In the event that you are enclosing the entire property you will want to try and get each boundary fence constructed the same way – obviously this may require some degree of negotiation if you are dealing with three neighbours.
Your new boundary fence must comply with Council bylaws and the Fencing Act 1978. The act states that neighbours can be required to pay equal contributions to the cost of an adequate boundary fence, or to the cost of restoring a fence to an adequate condition. The act does provide examples to help define what an adequate fence is for rural or urban areas.
The Fencing Act does not require a neighbour to contribute towards building or repairing a boundary fence which is elaborate or unnecessarily expensive. If you decide you want an expensive fence and your neighbour does not, you do have the option to contribute more than your share to get what you want. It’s wise to agree in writing what has been agreed to and avoid misunderstandings.
It is also important to know the exact location of the boundary. If there are visible boundary pegs these can often be relied on. To confirm the location of the boundaries refer to the property's Certificate of Title and Deposited Plan of Subdivision (DPS). Both documents can be ordered from Land Information New Zealand (LINZ).Otherwise you may need to get a new survey performed, or agree in writing with your neighbour where the fence will run.
Occasionally agreement cannot be reached or a dispute arises. In this situation you can serve a Fencing Notice. The Fencing Act then comes into force and imposes certain obligations and procedures that must be followed to try and resolve the dispute. At this point you should probably seek legal advice. The Disputes Tribunal will deal with disputes up to the value of $7,500, with the District Court ruling on larger claims.
Finally, if you don’t want to go through legal processes to get your neighbours share of the fencing costs, you can elect to build the fence entirely on your own property at your own expense. Your neighbour’s permission will still be needed for us to access their property to build the fence. The above information is intended as a guideline only, and we encourage professional legal advice be sought if and when required. You can download a copy of the Fencing Act 1978.