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Dividing Fences Policy

Last published 28 Aug 2017

1. Background

The backyards of all Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) properties owned by NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) and Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) should be secured by fences. A dividing fence is a barrier separating the land of adjoining owners.

2. Scope

This policy applies to all properties owned by LAHC and AHO which share dividing fences with adjoining private properties.

3. Policy statement

This policy provides guidelines for the management of dividing fences.

LAHC will negotiate with adjoining private owners on installation or repair of dividing fences separating the land on the common boundary line to ensure the security and privacy of tenants and be a responsible neighbour.

If an adjoining private owner wants to replace a dividing fence, they need to contact FACS on 1800 422 322 or contact their local FACS Housing office.

The private owners request should include the following information:

  • the addresses of both parties
  • the proposed boundary to be fenced
  • length and height of the proposed fence
  • type of fencing material proposed
  • the cost of the proposed fencing work
  • at least two competitive quotes
  • proof of ownership in the form of a rate notice
  • evidence that the existing fence no longer provides adequate fencing

Under LAHC Asset Performance Standards, fences must meet safety, function and appearance factors:

Safety

It must not pose any hazards or possess any sharp edges and be structurally sound. Sharp metal edges including fence stapling should not be exposed.

Function

The fence structure must be generally sound and provide a reasonable level of security to restrict access by people and animals. It must be mainly straight and sound with no gap greater than 100mm; the rails should be true and straight with the posts/masonry upright.

Appearance

The fence surface should be clean and free from holes - other than minor indentations. Some loose palings or dented panels are acceptable.

  • Our preferred fence height is 1500mm or 1800mm.
  • Materials to be used can include timber, metal, masonry (brick), mixed or composite.

Minimum fencing requirements (sufficient fencing)

A dividing fence is considered sufficient if the fence satisfies:

  • the purpose or use for which it was intended for, and
  • privacy concerns of the adjoining owners, and
  • the type of fencing typical to the locality, and
  • any policy or code adopted by the Local Government Area, and
  • any relevant environmental planning instruments.

If no dividing fence meeting the minimum requirements of sufficient fencing exists, adjoining owners will be asked to contribute to fencing work (which results in the provision of a dividing fence to a standard not greater than that described in ‘sufficient fencing’).

Fencing material and height

  • LAHC accepts a variety of fencing materials. The final decision is negotiable between LAHC and the private owner. LAHC will consider issues of maintaining consistency with the local area, the private owner’s preferences, termite risk and risk of damage (e.g. installed next to a driveway).
  • LAHC will generally match the height of the existing fence unless otherwise negotiated. Fence height of either 1500mm or 1800mm constitutes ‘sufficient fencing’.

Managing the work

All fencing work initiated by the private adjoining owner must be undertaken by qualified fencing contractors.

The private owner must provide LAHC with at least 7 days notice prior to commencing work.

Cost of dividing fencing

Under Section 25 of the Dividing Fences Act, Crown owners (as is the case for LAHC, RailCorp, Roads and Maritime Services etc.) are not legally required to contribute towards the cost of erecting/maintaining dividing fencing.

LAHC will generally pay up to 50% of the cost of erecting sufficient fencing and follow the relevant part of the Act which states the following:

  • Under the Dividing Fences Act, each neighbour must contribute towards the cost of erecting sufficient fencing to satisfy the requirements detailed above.
  • Adjoining owners must share the cost of the fencing, except in the following circumstances:
    • an owner must pay the additional cost if they want a dividing fence of a higher standard than is required under the definition of ‘sufficient fencing’.
    • an owner will have to pay the full cost if they damaged the existing dividing fence (either deliberately or negligently).
    • public authorities with control over crown lands, parks, reserves etc. do not have to contribute towards fencing costs. However, LAHC (and an owner of crown land and parks etc.) may negotiate with the adjoining private owners for half cost contribution.
    • If urgent fencing work is needed on a dividing fence (due to safety or security issues) the adjoining owners must share in the urgent work costs, even though an adequate fencing notice has not been served.
    • If LAHC occupies one or multiple dwellings in a block of units with private owners, it becomes the responsibility of the body corporate to cover the costs. LAHC should not be solely responsible for the total cost even if we have the largest amount of tenants in the housing complex.
  • If a private owner wishes to install a dividing fence that exceeds the ‘sufficient dividing fence’ requirements in the Act, LAHC’s contribution will be limited to the half the cost of a ‘sufficient dividing fence’.
  • If the private owner erects a replacement fence without written approval from LAHC, the private owner is not entitled to recover any costs associated with the fencing work.
  • If a dividing fence is damaged or destroyed by a private owner, household member, pet or visitor of the private owner, the private owner is expected to pay the full cost to restore the dividing fence.

4. Legislation and compliance

Dividing fences with adjoining private properties will be managed in accordance with:

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