Have you ever wondered what the legal height of a fence between Neighbours is in NSW?

The ANSWER is…..1.8m.  In NSW the height of a boundary fence should not exceed 1.8m in height.  If this just isn’t high enough, you can apply for an exemption (planning approval).  Important to note that this height is from taken from the higher part of the natural ground level.

Did you know that if your fence is erected on a sloping site you can make the lower end higher with an infill underneath.  As long as the height does not exceed 2.2m above ground level at each step.

If your fence is going to be built from masonry (a structure often laid and bound together by mortar e.g. bricks) the height must not exceed 1.2m.

It is also important to know that when your Fence extends past your front boundary this must not exceed 1.2m high.

For a full list of development standards (or those that do not require planning approval can be found here:

https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/EPI/2008/572/part2/div1/subDiv17

If the fence is a Dividing Fence (between neighbours) then the Dividing Fences Act 1991 also applies.

Key points you might be interested in when it comes to Dividing Fences

Who is actually liable for the cost of building a Fence?

Your neighbour is liable (if you have one) where there is no sufficient dividing fence to contribute to the costs of building a fence of a standard sufficient dividing fence.

Any neighbour who desires to carry out fencing work greater than the standard is liable for the (extra) fencing work that exceeds the standard.

Can I actually build a fence without my neighbours permission?

Yes you can.  You can’t however claim for half the costs until they have built on the vacant land.

Can I add lattice to the top of our dividing Fence?  Am I allowed to do this?

Talk to your neighbour.  Sounds easy enough but you must get them to agree before you add anything to the fence.

If you damage the fence in the process of adding the lattice you will more than likely be responsible for the full cost of repairing it.

It would also be wise to check with your local council what the maximum height of the fence in your area is. Of by adding lattice the fence exceeds the maximum height for fences in your area, you may be breaching local council rules and regulations. ​

What if my neighbour wants a fence but I do not?

Bascially the answer is too bad.  You must share the cost of a sufficient diving fence between your property and your neighbours.  You are still responsible for sharing the cost of building it and your neighbour has every right effect a fence and send you the bill.

What is a Fencing Notice and What is a Fencing Order?

What happens when you and your neighbour cannot agree on the type of Fence to build?  They want a wooden fence and you want a steel fence for example.

The first step is to issue a Fencing Notice. A Fencing Notice is a formal written notice to your neighbour that says you plan on building, fixing or replacing a fence and want your neighbour to contribute to the costs.

There is no specific Fencing Notice form that you have to use. You can write the notice yourself, but you should make sure you include the following:

  • that you are giving a Fencing Notice under the ‘Dividing Fences Act 1991 – Section 11’
  • your address
  • your neighbour’s address
  • where you want to do the fencing work, for example, on the boundary line (or somewhere else if it is not practical to build on the boundary line)
  • a description of the type of fencing work to be done, including the length and height of the fence and the materials to be used
  • who will do the work
  • the date the work will start
  • the date the work will be finished by
  • the estimated cost
  • how the cost is to be split (usually equally).

If you and your neigh​bour cannot agree on fencing work it is then best to try mediation to try and reach an agreement.  If you are still not able to come to an agreement you can then ask the NCAT (NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal) or your Local Court to make a ‘Fencing Order‘.  An application for a Fencing Order can only be made if a Fencing Notice was served by you or your neighbour at least one month earlier.

This will mean that the NCAT or Local Court will decide what fencing work is to be completed.  The order can cover:

  • what the fence should be made of
  • how high the fence should be
  • where the fence should be built
  • when the fence should be built
  • how the costs of the fencing work should be divided between neighbours.

If you need to enforce an order made by NCAT, there are some extra steps, and an extra fee.  Contact the NCAT for assistance on enforcing and order.