Can I ask a neighbor to help pay for a new fence?
Talk to your neighbors about building a new fence or upgrading an existing one.
Yes. In general, if you’re building a fence on a shared border with your neighbor or looking to upgrade an existing fence, you can expect the neighbor to cut the bill in half for a “reasonable” fence. That is, one that is “reasonably satisfactory” for the purpose it is intended to serve.
Before you start installing the fence posts, discuss your plans with your neighbor and consider the suggestion appropriate. They have the right to object if they cannot agree on what is appropriate.
If you can’t reach an agreement or your neighbor refuses to pay half, you can go through a formal process. First of all, you have to give your neighbor a “fence notice”.
What should the “fencing notice” say?
The notice should state that it will be served under the Fencing Act of 1978 and contain the names and addresses of you and your neighbor. It must describe:
- The border to be fenced in.
- The type of fence to be built.
- Who will build the fence.
- The total estimated cost.
- How materials should be bought.
- The start date for the work.
It must also be explained that your neighbor has 21 days to object to any aspect of the proposal and make counter-proposals. If your neighbor is not liable, you must find out why within 21 days and provide the name and address of whoever your neighbor believes is liable.
The notification must also state that if your neighbor does not notify us within 21 days, he has agreed to the proposals and must share the costs.
Make sure to sign and date the notice and keep a copy to yourself. You can deliver it by registered mail or in person. This is known as a “delivery notification”.
If you’re having trouble preparing to quit, read the Fencing Act. A sample clue is included in the law’s schedules, as well as some useful descriptions of different types of fences.
What if my neighbor doesn’t want a new fence at all?
They should serve you with a counter notification. You can object to part or all of the proposal if you think the existing fence is appropriate or if you think your proposal is excessive. They can also opt out of being asked to pay if they don’t own the property.
This counter-notification must be sent to you personally or sent by registered mail.
What should a cross-notice say?
You must receive the counter notification within 21 days. It should detail your neighbour’s objection and any counter-proposals. It should also state that it will be served under the Fencing Act.
A model cross-note is included in the law’s timetables.
What happens next?
If you cannot agree, you can choose mediation, arbitration, a dispute tribunal, or a district court to resolve the dispute.
I would love to build a smart iron fence but my neighbor says it will be too expensive and wants a simple wooden fence. Who can vote?
If you cannot agree, you will need to solve the problem as described above. But your neighbor doesn’t have to pay more than half the cost of a “reasonable” fence.
My neighbor is sold out and gone, but I still want the new fence. Do I have to issue a new notice?
A new neighbor means a new chance for a friendly relationship. You can find that they readily agree to your plans. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to go through the process again.
My neighbor is still contradicting the fence and will not let the builder cross the border line when building the fence. Can you do that?
Yes. In this case, you can file an order with a district court or a court of dispute so that anyone who builds the fence can enter your neighbour’s property at appropriate times and do whatever is reasonable to build the fence.
You can avoid this problem by addressing the problem in your fence notification. That way, at the first hearing, the court can authorize you, or anyone you hired to build the fence, to enter your neighbor’s property.
Where should the fence go exactly?
The fence posts should be placed right on or as close to the boundary line as possible. In the absence of posts, the center of the fence should be on the border line.
We had a fence, but my neighbor destroyed it. Now they want me to help pay for a new one. Must I?
No, you were responsible for the damage and have to pay.
The fence was destroyed in a storm, but my neighbor is overseas and I need to get it fixed quickly. Can I ask you to help with the costs when you get home?
Yes. When your neighbors aren’t around and a fence needs to be fixed right away, you can get the job done and get half the cost back from the other owner.
If the fence needs to be replaced, consider replacing it with a comparable fence. But you can’t upgrade the fence without your neighbor’s approval.
My neighbors have built a swimming pool near the border and are legally required to fence it in. Do I have to help you pay?
Yes, but your contribution shouldn’t exceed the amount you would pay if the pool weren’t there. That is, half the cost of a “reasonable” fence in this area of the border.
How high can my fence be?
You can usually build up to 2 meters high without obtaining building permission from the local council.
However, you should always check with the council to be sure. You may live in a particular heritage site or you may be affected by rules in the district plan that mean you cannot build your fence that high.
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