Department of Commerce
'The Building Commission'

This Weeks Episode of Home in WA

Jane Vallance



1300 489 099

(08) 9476 1330

Level 1, 31 Troode Street
West Perth WA 6005

One of the issues that can cause difficulties between neighbours is when a dividing fence needs to be erected or repaired. Each owner may think it’s up to the other person to fix it. Well of course it doesn’t work that way. But the new Building Commission at the Department of Commerce has some helpful advice and a problem solving booklet for us.

Many neighbours talk and agree on managing their dividing fences with no problems. For those times when agreement is not so easy you may need some information and advice.
Property owners have a joint responsibility to share the cost of a dividing fence with their neighbour.
A dividing fence is defined as the fence that separates the properties of different owners, whether that fence runs along a common boundary line or a line other than a common boundary. Owners of adjoining land are each required to pay half the cost of erecting or repairing what is called a “sufficient fence” between their properties. And a “sufficient fence” is a minimum standard of fencing set out by your Local Council.  

If you want to erect a dividing fence of a higher standard than a “sufficient fence”, say in brick or limestone, without obtaining the agreement of the adjoining property owner, you may still only claim for half the cost of a “sufficient fence”.

If you wish your neighbour to meet you half way with the cost of erecting a “sufficient fence” the Dividing Fences Act 1961 requires you to give notice in writing to the adjoining property owner describing your proposal including materials to be used, costs, and specify the boundary to be fenced. The staff at the Building Commission can assist you.

The Building commission can’t however, help with matters relating to building on boundaries or nuisance overhanging trees. You need to talk to your local council about these issues. It’s all in the guide.

To help you understand your obligations and responsibilities get yourself a copy of the guide by calling the Dividing Fences Information Line on 1300 720 715. A quick read or a word of advice could save you a lot of trouble.