Purchased Block of Land - Neighbours Want Me to Share Cost for Fence Put up Three Years Ago

I'm building in a newer estate and bought land last year to start building. The land came with, "free fencing".

After the slab was laid the wife and I went to visit it. The neighbour comes running out and the second words out of his mouth are asking for us to pay for half of the fencing they put up when they finished their build 3 years ago. (We only owned the block for 6 months)

What do you do?

Update1: Had folks out to do some concrete and a few posts including a post for the gate that will go along the fence in question today, they're to come back tomorrow to hang a couple gates. Neighbour comes out and mentions paying for the fence again, he told me I don't have to pay immediately, I think he was honestly trying to be nice. I took the community advice and told him that I will not be paying for a fence and that he should seek payment from the developer and told him that if he provides the invoice I can forward it to them to see if they'll pay for it under my free fencing. (I already emailed the developer.)
He seemed quite set back and said that he doesn't want to have to go the legal route. I told him that I would prefer any future communication via registered mail and that I will forward them to my solicitor. (Bluff as I cannot afford one.) I walked away after that, sat in my car. Team finished up and the boss of them came over asked me what that was about, I told him and he laughed and said it's common and left me with the question, "can you imagine a world without fences?" That made my day.

Update2: No word from developer, received invoice taped to my door, the breakdown shows it cost them $4800 for the 14.5 metres of fence we share. So they want $2400.

Poll Options

  • 53
    Pay half
  • 1455
    Pay none
  • 97
    Amazon Prime Day
  • 40


          • @deek: In vic you don't get council contribution if its shared with them, water bodies might be different. I had a rental that backed onto housing commission i contacted them about replacing the fence, the bill was $1500ish they just paid as it was easier than getting half back from me, i did not complain.

      • not screwed when they have 100% saying of the style, quality etc..
        heck, who knows if they also painted their side.. lol~

      • +4

        That's just how the system works.
        If the developer doesn't pay costs, and there is no neighbour on the other side at the time, then the existing owner has 2 options: 1. pay for fence in full themselves, 2. wait for a new neighbour before putting up the boundary fence, so they have to pay half.
        Anything they have spent prior to you buying that block is 100% on them.

    • Excellent suggestion!

  • +55

    What a horrible way to greet a new neighbour. I feel sorry for you OP.

    • +1

      They weren't given the how to talk to people handbook.

  • +4

    Get your free fence built next to their fence

    Double Fence

    Zero worries

    Or rip down their fence and get your free fence installed.


    • +1

      I think by "free" fence he is saying the land he purchased already had fencing. But I could be mistaken.

      • +1

        The free fencing was a promotion by the estate.

        • Have you entertained the possibility that this guy got the fence on the same 'free fencing' condition you were under and hes trying to pull a switfy on you, maybe talk to the land sales agent and see if you can find that out

          Aside from that, Id tell him to stick it, you arent liable for a fence he put up prior to you owning the property

          • @bloo58: or he claimed half from previous, and now another half double dip haha

    • +1

      Double Fence

      Zero worries

      Less space for everyone - lose, lose.

      • +1

        Or more space between you and your entitled neighbour?
        Sounds like a benefit.

  • +7

    Sounds like a conflict with the previous owner of your land. No you shouldn’t pay for a fence installed before you bought it, unless it states it in your contract (this happens from time to time if seller can’t afford it). You might find the previous owner told the neighbour that they’d ask the new owner to pay for it as a condition of sale to keep them quiet. Don’t pay unless it’s in your contract.

    • +1

      Previous owner was the developer/estate they put in the contract that they won't pay anything for fencing.

      • +14

        Tell your neighbour to take up the cost of the fencing with the previous owner. i.e. the developer.

      • And tell them good luck 😂

  • +6

    some very interesting views above, my understanding of fencing between neighbors is, the first to build pays for the fence and as soon as a neighbor builds they are entitled to ask for the 50% reimbursement of the original cost of the fence, with the original receipt provided. i bought a block in the mid 90s in a coastal town and that was how it was explained to me by the real estate agent that sold it to me, its still a vacant block now.

    • +27

      Yeah, I wouldn't be paying for a fence on a block of land I didn't own at the time the fence was erected. This leaves it open to abuse.

      They could get their uncle to put up the fence and make an invoice for 10x the actual cost and you have no say in it? Just pay your 50%?

      OP has a free fence deal, what's to say the neighbors didn't get the same deal but want to charge OP for their free fence?

      I would just tell the neighbors to chase the previous owners of the block.

    • not saying you're wrong, i just find it hard to believe this would be a law.

    • +1

      why would you build a fence onto an empty block though?
      grew up in a coastal town on a new estate in the 80s there were like 7 houses out of 100 blocks when we moved in and zero fences. it was awesome. only slowly as more homes went up did fences start to appear.

      we built for an elderly maiden aunt next door a few years later and she had an empty block next to her for 20ish more years so still no fences. my cousins inherited it as a holiday house when she passed. only after mum passed and we sold did a fence go up on that side.

      • +1

        Some people need to keep animals from getting out and going for a wander.

      • +2

        To stop pets/kids getting out.
        Nude sunbathing
        Feeling of security

        • Nude sunbathing

          I do it all the time and there's no fence.

  • +4

    Like others I feel for you. Lose lose whatever you do.

  • Who promised the free fence? Is that in a contract?

    • +1

      It isn't in the contract but it was on the material given to me by the estate.
      The estate did pay for fencing that was lacking between our property and the one behind us. I will contact the estate to ask what they say about paying half of 3 year old fencing.

      • +17

        It isn't in the contract but it was on the material given to me by the estate.
        The estate did pay for fencing that was lacking between our property and the one behind us. I will contact the estate to ask what they say about paying half of 3 year old fencing.

        Give the promo material to the neighbour.

        Then tell the neighbour you already paid the estate for the fence when you bought the block and he should chase them for the money. You are unwilling to pay twice.

        • +3

          ^This would be my take.

          “The seller stated that all fencing was included in purchase price and fencing that was not already built would be constructed as I was building the house.

          Sorry but I believe that the same terms would’ve been offered to you but nonetheless you can chase them up for compensation.”

          If they are &[email protected]#heads after that could say:
          “Feel free to take the fence down and the seller will build a new one to replace, then we would’ve built one fence each, I.e. 50:50”

          I have to agree with others though, for an old house we had to replace the fence and contacting council they said that for a fence to built and split 50:50 both parties have to agree to have it built and approve the quote/pricing. If one party disagrees then the other cannot chase up for equal contribution.
          The only exception was if there was a safety issue or the fence was going to otherwise encroach on your land (it was falling over) and then you could get council to inspect and they’d send a notice to the neighbour for correctional work to be completed.

          Stand you ground, they put up the fence they pay for it. The benefit they get is the choice of colour/material and usually the better side of the fence (sometimes the other side has visible support beams). They likely would’ve known they’d be up 100% of it so got the cheapest guy to build, so The quality of workmanship is another question. Like mine it could be collapsing anytime now, esp if your blocks of land need any landscaping.

          The most I’d offer to pay (would delay this until you move in, sighting the fact that seller should pay) if you want to keep the peace is like what other people have mentioned.

          Standard Warranty/ATO asset life: 10 years
          Years lapsed: 3, Remaining life: 70%
          50% share : 35%
          Haircut for them picking style & colour: 30%
          Approx remainder: 25% (max you agree to pay)

  • +12

    He needs to recoup from the owner at the time the fence was erected. Tell him such. Also tell him if the fence needs repairs/replacing you’ll be happy to go halves at that time.

  • -2

    I always thought the person building first builds the fence and the neighbour moving in later pays half the cost (Only for the portion adjoining their property). Sounds quiet fair to me.

    • +15

      Ok, and let's say they hand you a bill from 3 years ago for a fence and it's $28,000 for a standard, 25m long, 1.8m high colourbond fence that you had absolutely no input into ok'ing the quote. You're happy to fork out your $14,000??

      • +3

        thats the most expensive fence ive ever heard of is it made of gold?

        its a valid point , this often happens if say let makes your example bit more realistic, if the neighbor decided to go all out and build an brick rendered with expensive finishing touches. maybe 800 per linear metre, so thats $20,000

        so in this particular case no you wouldn't have to pay 10,000 however you would need to pay standard fencing price. for example you can argue that you would never ever need such a high quality fence and in this particular case you would put up a wood fence for 50$ per linear metre so that 1250$ for 25m and you would pay 1/2 which comes to 625$

        This often happens when neighbors don't talk to each other before erecting the fence. 'But if your neighbour is rich enough to erect such a fancy fence, the chances are they don't expect you the pay for it, it would just be a bonus if they got anything. In actual fact alot bigger acreages when a richer neighbor moves in they just setback and build whatever pleases them at their own cost.

        There is no way you get away with paying 0$ for a fence unless both houses are old. (we are talking new estates)

        • +2

          Its not so much the quality, it is the lack of control or input into the price. My brother does fencing, whats to stop me getting a quote for triple the price giving him cash to build it and then making a profit off the new neighbour? basically you can't be expected to pay an undefined amount that you had zero input or verification of and no way to validate after the fact. When you buy a property unless explicitly stated then it comes with whatever fencing is already in place, any debts belong to the previous owner or need to be called out prior to purchase.

      • +1

        That's just an extreme hypothetical example. I get the point you're making, but what if it's an entirely reasonable quote, consistent with what you'd expect, what then? Would you pay the half under those circumstances?

  • +2

    But if you can't get the third party who made the offer of free fencing to pay, which I guess was the developer or their agent, I would pay with a smile - assuming the fence is fit for purpose and the cost within reason. Your neighbour didn't cause the problem. Good fences make good neighbours.

    • +1

      I will contact the developer and see what they say. Although I'm doubtful they would pay for fencing that is already there.

  • +8

    Buying land already fenced is the way you bought it. He should have gone to the developer 3 years ago. There is also a fencing notice which needs to be served BUT not post erection DO NOT PAY you do not have to NO local court will accept his application if he goes down that track

    • the not-paying part is easy, more worried about the neighbourly relation :o

  • If you went half, and lets say the fence is 30m, you would pay about $1,500. Now this isn't exact, but roughly what i remember from our 30m odd fence line.

    But as far as whether you should pay or pay a depreciated amount or nil, i don't know..

  • +1

    Please state the state you live in. In WA the fencing rules fall under your state law and council law. Under WA law your only required to pay half of a standard fence and only for the section that is connected to your house. Your need to ask them to send a copy of the tax invoice as proof of payment. Then portion the section that connected to your house.

    Note its only standard fence as per law. If they decide to go above and beyond then the cost to go above and beyond is their cost.

    The Act does not cover deprecation. Also if your fence is border on the council land your required to pay the whole section.

    If the fence was provided free of charge he wouldn't have a tax invoice.

    • +2

      No state would have laws that make you liable for fence expenses 3 years prior to you buying a property. That would be stupid.

      • -2


        The Department of Commerce WA would disagree with your statement.

        Note this only applies to WA.

        "Erecting a new fence where one or both blocks are vacant
        Where one or both blocks are vacant, you should attempt to negotiate a written agreement with the owner of the adjoining block and the fence should be erected according to the terms of the agreement.

        If you are unable to come to an agreement with the owner of the vacant land, you may still erect a sufficient fence. The owner of the vacant land would be required to contribute half of the cost incurred in erecting the sufficient fence once they had completed a building or substantial structure on their land. If the neighbor objects to paying the costs or disputes the line on which the fence was built, they can apply for an order may be made through the Magistrates Court."

        Cost of recover can only occur when the vacant land owner has completed a building or substantial structure. You can not recover the cost against a vacant land owner. If it takes the owner 3 years to build a property you are still able to recover this payment.

        Saying that based on the Ops further answer the neighbor did lie about this matter. Saying that I do agree it is completely stupid but that is the law.

        • https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/planning-and-property/owning-a-...

          Although a fence is considered equally shared there is no legal obligation for your neighbour to contribute towards the cost of repairing, maintaining or erecting a fence unless:

          -they have agreed to it
          -the proper notices have been given
          -a court orders them to.

          • @lunchbox99: I clearly stated WA and I did ask the Op to clarify.

            • @pandadude: You downvoted me for quoting SA laws when OP is clearly from SA and you’re posting irrelevant crap about WA? Enjoy your downvotes

              For the record I was not the person who downvoted you

        • +1

          Presumably the owner was the developer of the estate though.

          The OP didnt own the land when the fence went up.

          Your info above states that discussion needs to have had with the owner at the time of the fence being built and can be recovered once a property is built

          It doesn’t say hit up the next owner 3 years later

          It doesn’t make sense that the OP would be liable for an old fence erected prior to his ownership. What if the land was vacant for 12yrs and the fence was on the verge of needing to be replaced? Would OP be liable for 1/2 the cost of the 12 yr old fence then liable again for 1/2 the cost of a new fence a couple of year later?

          Or what if the neighbour installed a fence the block was left vacant until such a time as that fence was replaced then OP bought the land. Would OP be up for the cost of 2 fences? 🤔

          • -1

            @parsimonious one: To clarify if we talking WA you would need to reference to the Dividing Fences Act 1961 (WA) Section 13. That should actually answer all your questions. As per other states the rules might be different.

            • +1

              @pandadude: We aren’t talking WA. OP is clearly in SA.

              • +1

                @lunchbox99: My bad for not checking his in SA.

                Also the OP had already got an answer on this matter.

                I will give you a positive vote on this one since I will admit this one was my bad.

  • +21

    You have already paid for the fence when you purchased the property. The previous owner (who you paid) owes money to your neighbour. I would offer to help the neighbour secure that money, but it's not fair to ask you to pay twice.

  • +3

    Tell them sex and travel.

    How can you be liable for something built 3 years ago - if you only owned it 6 months?
    What planet are these people from?

    • Tell them sex and travel.

      Best advice yet! Problem solved.

  • +3

    Plot twist - neighbour got free fence too and is trying to get free money.

    I would not pay. It’s not your obligation to. As others have said, whoever owned it before you owes them half.

    If you do decide to pay because you cbf with a shitty neighbour, I’d be seeking receipts and if it seems too high, go get some quotes to replace it now and only offer them half of that.

    • I wondered if they did get free fencing. After research I found out they did not get free fencing. Our lots were priced the same. They did get 1 square metre more than us.

  • +3

    We were the first house on our side of the street when we built ~12 years ago and we paid for fences on 3 sides of an acre block which I think was 160m or 170m or thereabouts (hurts to think about the cost). I only just realised I should have billed the neighbours after they bought their blocks. Oh well.

    • +4

      Just wait for someone new to move in and hit them up.

    • +3

      No. You should have billed the person who owned the land at the time you put the fences up. You would have been entitled to share costs with whoever that was.

      • That would have been some land developer. Normally you wait until somebody buys the blocks and share the cost.

        • You would have been entitled to share costs with the land developer.

  • +6

    Blimey. I wouldn't pay for a fence that was made years before you owned the land. Sounds crazy. I love my neighbours , but if they tried a stunt like this i would tell them to piss off.

  • What i would be finding out is,

    When you purchased are all fees paid for land estate etc
    If all fees are paid you don't owe anyone anything
    If there is nothing in your contract to say you owe money for a fence then you don't.

    Tell them you didn't agree to a fence being put up 2 years prior to owning the house you didn't consent to the monetary loss and to take it up with the person who agreed upon it.

  • +1

    Intriguing. Who made the free fencing offer? Do you have any other borders on the property to fence?

    Class action to get the whole freakin' estate fenced per offer.

    • +1

      It turned out to be only certain lots got, "free fencing" it wasn't in the contract that I signed, but the estate did make good on their word and had fencing errected between the property behind us and ourselves.

      • +2

        Show the neighbour your free fencing offer and tell them your not paying anything.
        If the neighbours hadn't put the fencing up years ago you (and they) would be getting it free now so another reason you shouldnt pay.
        They put fencing up years ago because they wanted/needed to. Nothing to do with you.

        • +1

          Even without the free fencing offer I do t see how OP is liable for a fence built when someone else owned his block

  • +4

    We'll say to tell them to f off and chase it up with the previous owners.

    Then post a new thread complaining about neighbours from hell.
    Then we'll tell you to put grout in their tyres

    Then post a new thread that you're being sued for damaging their property.
    We'll tell you not to get legal advice on ozBargain

    Then post a new thread saying your lawyer charged you thousands and you lost the case.
    We'll say to take it to vcat

    Then stop using ozBargain and move to Whirlpool where they're more sympathetic to complaints.

    • +2

      I think you are confusing OP with ash-say

    • +2

      Then we'll tell you to put grout in their tyres

      only on OCAU

      • Ooh a fellow ocower!

        • +2

          fairly sure ive been banned twice on OCAU for suggesting it.

    • Can you tell more about grouting the tyres?

      Sounds like a fun way to get revenge.

      • +5

        there was an OCAU post about a guy who "pranked" his work colleague by lifting the car, removing the valve stems, and filling the tyres with grout. There was a huge thread of people arguing it wouldnt work, and the tyres would just look flat. He posted the entire "build log" pics, and got away with it. After a week, the guy was complaining how his car was tearing through fuel.

        He came clean and had to replace all 4 wheels and tyres.

        It then became a bit of an out of control meme. Particularly when someone asked for "help". In the same way bikies/aca is used here.

        I think i have been banned twice for suggesting filling tyres with grout.

        to bypass the mods, methods were used such as "does he have a car, and do you know any tiliers", but some mods still saw this and you got banned.

        edit: (you need an account) 2009…. got i feel old. https://forums.overclockers.com.au/threads/ok-so-we-played-a...

        • You must be logged in to do that.

          Dang! Sounds like a good read.

          • +4

            @MS Paint: Here you go champ. Thanks for all the fine art over the years.

            <Backstory>This dick at my work is such a (profanity). He's constantly telling everyone what to do.

            I do the same, but this guys is ridiculous.

            He tells people how to eat, shit drive, work, speak, act dress, everything.

            It all became too much the other week when I was late. I had a flat tyre. Was just flat in my driveway when i woke up.

            (profanity) comes in with "Do you check your tyres for wear? I check mine everyday, If you dont check your tyres for wear, then it's your fault if you get a flat tyre. Did you hit something maybe, you drive like an idiot, i've seen you".

            My day was shit, so I lost my (profanity) nut at him, and basically told him that if I see him in the office I'll (profanity) stab him.

            He complains to my manager, I get talked to blah, blah, blah.

            Long story short.. I HATE this guy.

            <Actual Story>
            (profanity) mentioned to us that he was leaving his car downstairs for the weekend, he was going striaght to the coast after work with his bitch.

            He's constantly playing pranks in the office, and tells us of his AWESOME pranks to his freinds. So id decided to play my prank, and see if he liked it. Keep in mind I always planned to confess and pay for damage.

            I wish I had the balls to steal his car, but insted myself and 2 friends arrived late friday night (this is about 2 weeks ago) with 2 pneumatic jacks and 28 bags of tiling grount.

            We jacked his car up.

            Mixed up the tiling grout.

            1 by 1, we deflated his tyres, removed the valves, and then spent probably 30 minutes with each tyre filling them with tiling grout. We also had to put a small puncture in the top of each tyre to let the air escape. We then replaced the valves and used a bike pump just to make sure the tires were full. Then we placed it on cinderblocks and wood chocks.

            Came back on sunday, and we had to put probably another 200ml of grout into the top of each tyre and they were perfect.

            Last monday I came into work expecting to hear the story, but nothing.

            All last week… nothing..

            It's now wednesday, and I'd completely forgotten about it untill he came in at lunch today having a bitch about his car.

            Apparently it's eating fuel like a (profanity) and the mechanic can't figure out why. ~$150 in Fuel in 9 days.

            I've been sitting out the back here at work for the last 2 hours shitting myself with laughter, but how the (profanity) do I tell him this?? It's gone too far, I'm fine to call him on the weekend and explain, but I dont wan't a shitfight at work….

        • I laughed out loud when I read about the pranked victim "complaining how his car was tearing through fuel " lolz

          does that make me a bad person!? /:

  • +13

    Send your neighbour this thread, tell him the people have voted

  • +1

    Just wow.

  • +2

    If you pay, make sure you piss on the fence to mark your territory.

  • +5

    Not a land owner myself, but my parents own a house. They would always say that neighbors make or break the experience.
    In your case, it seems the experience is already compromised, even before you make your decision.
    Ask yourself a question - are you likely to get along with that neighbor regardless of him being just a tad more tactful than Sydney drivers?
    - If yes, I would suggest to sit down and negotiate with all paperwork in front of you.
    - If not - what do you have to lose? Tell them it was their choice to erect it years before you came about, and that it is not your problem. Also, tripple check if that fence is actually not on your patch of land, and cooperate with the council to correct that if it is.

    • +9

      +1 for checking boundary of your property and where the fence sits on it just in case!!

    • You have to get a land surveyor to check the boundary.

  • +9

    You're mad if you pay. Politely decline, noting that a fencing notice needed to be provided to the owner of the adjacent lot prior to erecting the fence, and that since you didn't own the property at that time, you could not have received this notice. The contract is with the previous owner, not with you. If they never provided a fencing notice, that's on them.

    • This dude fences

  • Ask your local council they will have info on the law in your state

  • +3

    You can just say that you are not the owner, just a renter when the house is built.

  • tough situation. not much more to add from me than what has already been said. I can only say from my experience that neighbors do make or break your experience. One of our adjacent neighbor is a crazy old lady. She has definitely made living here less enjoyable with all of the problems she has caused us.

    • someone swapped our good condition bin with their rotten unkept one,

      and frequently shoves their trash in ours on bin nights, dunno who though!

  • I bought a block of land in a new AV Jennings development.

    2009 - AV Jennings builds development
    2010 - Some guy buys the block of land
    2011 - The guy can't build the house he wanted, so the land was sold to me

    2013 - I get an angry letter from AV Jennings, to my address and name, demanding immediate payment for a fence or they're about to send the bill to a collections agency. It's the first I ever heard of this, as the original land owner didn't pay up and now the bill was given to me with a threatening letter.

    I just paid the bill, as it was only $650 and I didn't feel like having a black mark on my credit record for the next five years. I didn't have the contact details for the previous land owner, so couldn't really chase the money.

    • +11

      but you didn't have to chase the owner, AV Jennings did… I would not have paid

      • AV Jennings' logic was I now owned the land with the fence on it so I had to pay. Now obviously it should have been the previous owners' responsibility to pay the bill, but the threat of being locked out of borrowing any money for five years was worth more to me than the $650 bill.

        • +5

          Yeah, each to their own, I wouldn't be able to pay it, I'd be too angry with myself if I did