The Fencing Act provides detailed information related to fences. If you're planning to build a boundary fence, there's a few things to consider:
- where on the property you want to put the fence
- how high you want it
- fences on the boundary with Council property
Fences between neighbours
If you want to build a fence between your property and your neighbour's property, in general:
• the middle of the fence must be on the boundary line
• a fence higher than 2 metres in a residential area will require resource consent. Talk to our duty planner for more advice
• a fence higher than 2.5 metres in a residential area will require building consent.
• adjoining owners share the cost of putting up or repairing a fence (unless one owner damages the fence, in which case they pay for the repairs)
• you can only obtain a compulsory contribution to the cost of a fence if a notice is served on the adjoining owner under the Fencing Act.
What to do first
Talk with your neighbour about the fence and explain:
- why the existing fence needs repairs, or you want to build a new fence
- what type of fence you want
- how much it will cost
If your neighbour won't agree, or a compromise can't be reached, you can't just put the fence up and send them a bill. There is a formal procedure that must be followed. You must give your neighbour the details of your proposal in writing. This is called serving a fencing notice.
A fencing notice
This is a notice you give your neighbour to state your fence proposal, it must include the following
- names and addresses of both you and your neighbour
- describe the fence material and where it's to be built
- the estimated cost of the work
- the start date for the work
- a statement saying that the notice is served under the Fencing Act 1978
The notice needs to say:
- that they have 21 days to object to your proposal, by serving a cross-notice
- If they don't own the property, that they have 21 days to supply the name and address of the owner
- that if no objection is received in 21 days it will be deemed to have agreed to the proposal and you can proceed with the fence and they'll be liable to share the cost.
You need to sign and date the notice.
Can the neighbour refuse to pay?
In certain circumstances, yes. If they don't own the property or they believe the existing fence is adequate, or think your proposal is excessive, they can serve you with a cross-notice. The cross-notice must reach you within 21 days and should detail the objection and any counter proposals. It should state that it's served under the Fencing Act 1978 and that any persistent dispute in the matter will have to be sorted out by the courts or the Disputes Tribunal. The neighbour must sign and date the cross-notice.
What if we just can't agree?
If negotiations with your neighbour reach an impasse, you can take the matter to the disputes tribunal or the district court. For further advice, talk to your solicitor or Citizens Advice Bureau.
Under the Fencing Act and Local Government Act - councils and the NZ Transport Agency are exempt from sharing any fencing costs with properties adjoining a road or road reserve. The definition of road reserve
Council is also exempt from land that adjoins an esplanade reserve or esplanade strip under the Resource Management Act.
Fences on the boundary with council land
You will need to contact us to determine whether you are eligible for a contribution toward the cost of maintenance or replacement of fences on the boundary between your property and council property.
For more information
Website - Fencing Act 1978(external link)