Mending Fences

When you want to erect a new fence on your boundary, disputes can often arise with your neighbour who owns the adjoining land.

Where possible, it is best to maintain a positive relationship with your neighbour so you can work towards a solution that is suitable for everyone involved. If you can reach a verbal agreement directly with your neighbour, it can significantly save on time, cost, and overall stress. If you want to build a new fence and are unsure whether your neighbour will agree, the best first step to take is starting a discussion with them, either verbally or by writing to them.

Generally, the cost of a new fence between neighbours that share a boundary will be shared equally between each owner. This is set out in the Fencing Act 1978 (‘the Act’).

Fencing notices

If you want to erect a new fence on a shared boundary and cannot reach agreement with your neighbour, you need to follow the process as set out in the Act. The Act provides specific forms that can be used to serve a notice on your neighbour of your intention to compete work. The notice must include:

  • Further description of boundary to be fenced.
  • Nature of the work, e.g., new fence, replacement of existing.
  • Type of fence.
  • Method of construction.
  • Estimated total cost and contractor’s quote + how cost is shared.
  • How materials to be purchased or supplied and how paid for.
  • Date for commencement of work.

Schedule 2 of the Act sets out different types of fencing suitable for Urban and Rural areas. It is important you also check your property title for any Land or Fencing Covenants that may determine the type of fence that can be erected.

If you receive a fencing notice from your neighbour, you need to respond with a cross-notice within 21 days. The Act provides a cross-notice form.

Repairing or replacing

Determining costs can become more difficult when an owner wants to repair or replace an existing fence.  Owners of adjoining land will need to share the cost of repairing or replacing a fence if the existing fence is ‘inadequate’. An ‘Adequate fence’ is described in the Act as “a fence that, as to its nature, condition, and state of repair, reasonably satisfactory for the purpose that it serves or is intended to serve.”

If you cannot agree with your neighbour as to whether an existing fence is adequate, this point may need to be determined by the District Court.


If your relationship with your neighbour has broken down, and you are unable to resolve the dispute, an application can be made to either the Disputes Tribunal or District Court as to costs. Applications to the Disputes Tribunal can be made for claims up to $30,000.00. Visit the Justice website to make an application online here

If you need any further advise on the subject get in touch with our friendly team