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
    Bikies

Comments

    • They have security cameras.

    • Imagine the excitement and adrenaline of having seeing OP finally turned up after years of waiting… hence they can only uttered "Pay for this fence!!" lololol

  • +1

    How do we know the neighbour hasn’t already extracted half the cost from the previous owner already…

  • +2

    I'd pay them in cash and then steal the money back later that night

  • +1

    Tell them that you wouldve picked a different colour/style and that cos you didnt get any say in it you dont want to pay.

    • Unfortunately the fencing has to be a specific colour and style and height.

  • +1

    Hold on. Are you the first person to buy this land from the developers? If so, that's vital information that you omitted and you are responsible for splitting the costs with your neighbours on ALL sides of the property. Jeez

    • Yes, I am the first purchaser of the property. If he would have waited, he could have used my free fencing offer.

      • -4

        With no fence his property is open to theives, vandalism, wild animals, other builders dumping their rubbish within his boundaries. He might have had a pet that requires a fence and so on.
        Can't expect someone to not have a fence for years and wait for a potential better offer from the first owner.

        You being the first owner, you share the cost with the other neighbours. No getting around it.

  • +4

    I bet OP, after seeking the sage advice of the 935 (and counting) here, ignores it.

    • +1

      I've taken it. I've changed my ways.

  • Tell your neighbor you do not want a fence. He has to pay you to keep the fence.

    "Good fences make good neighbors"

  • You've already paid for the fence in the purchase price of the land.

    Why would you pay for it again?!

  • +1

    I would say something like, I was told the cost of fencing was included with the sale. I will have to check contracts etc. And if he approacnes you later say, my solicitor said it was already paid for, sorry. Any future costs we can discuss before I will agree to anything. And walk away

  • +7

    The cheek of the guy to even ask.

  • Dude, be nice and just say no.

  • I bet their are a lot of neighbourhood disputes over fences. Just say To ne honest, I dont think I should have to pay for something thats been here long before me, so you can take me to court but I doubt that I will have to pay.

        • +4

          Tbo if you paid someone for a fence built before you bought the land then you were stupid.. Sorry to be so blunt but its as simple as that…

    • +1

      The neighbours built the fence three years ago, 2.5 years before OP owned their land.

      They can't backdate a tax invoice

  • If its not a lot of money maybe you want to keep the peace, but get everything in writing. And be very wary of this neighbour. Be polite, but keep your distance.

    • -1

      Share fence costs is nothing to be weary about.

      What do you think the op would do if they put the fence up first in a new estate. I guarantee they would be asking for a contribution.

      • +2

        Nope, I wouldn't do that. It's very disrespectful to ask someone to pay for something they didn't agree to and has been in use for 2.5 years. If I really wanted them to pay, I would erect temporary fencing and waited until someone could agree to pay half.

  • Introduce termites.

    What fence…

  • Interesting situation - keep us updated OP

  • If it's an existing property, I would say not to pay because that's the problem between the neighbor and previous owner. But this is a brand new property so you have to build a fence anyway. Get some quotes to see if the asking price is ridiculous compared what is asked. If it's not, I think it's reasonable to pay half of the fence

  • "pay for half of the fencing they put up when they finished their build 3 years ago"

    What?!? How about NO

    No way. You didn't own the land back then.
    Print off the rules / legislation and explain its not for you to pay.

    If he doesn't accept this, welcome to your new life next to this neighbour. Wow….. The nerve!

    • There was no owner before the OP
      He is the first one to buy it from the developer.

      • +6

        Then the developer was the owner.

        I guarantee you that on the purchase contract and title deeds there was an owner listed on the documents

        • This is exactly the answer. Around here we had lots of that as I built in a new estate - it just meant that a number of the neighbours had to send the bill for some of the fencelines to Stockland. If the land had been purchased and titled or was under contract on the adjacent lot then it would be up to the owner of that adjacent lot. If it hadn't sold yet, the developer is the owner.

  • +1

    Honestly sounds like a crock of a #*&@. But life with unhappy neighbours is something you want to avoid. If you have the cash I would atleast negotiate in good faith for the sake of peace. If this person doesn't seem reasonable than they deserve nothing.

    Also check the boundaries on your title, new fences have a way of wandering onto your land. If the fence is found to be on your land things will get interesting.

    • Good neighbours is a blesssing! Not paying your contribution to the fence is a guaranteed way to ensure your neighbours won’t be helping you out at time when you need it!

  • +1

    Assuming Victoria.

    https://www.justice.vic.gov.au/fencing-law-in-victoria

    Process where adjoining owner cannot be located or does not respond
    As the Fences Amendment Act requires a fencing notice to be given in most circumstances, it is necessary for the Act to also provide for what happens when an adjoining owner cannot be located or is given a fencing notice but does not respond.

    If an owner wishes to undertake fencing works but cannot locate the adjoining owner after making ‘reasonable inquiries’ — including asking any person who occupies the property and asking the local council — that owner may undertake the works. If an owner gives a fencing notice but after 30 days the adjoining owner has not responded, the owner wishing to undertake the works may do so.

    In either circumstance — where the adjoining owner cannot be located or does not respond—a court order will be required if the owner who undertook the fencing works wishes to seek a contribution from the adjoining owner.

  • +12

    Man, the vacant block next to me has changed hands twice now. I should have hit up each successive owner for 50% of the fence costs. What a great scam.

    • Plot twist: run every new owners out of the property with loud music at all hours for an endless supply of money

  • +1

    Ahh fencing, the absolute bane of building.

    Right now I have a 2nd full time job managing a temporary fence for my build.

    Builder wrote it into my contract it was my responsibility to remove and manage temporary fence until no longer required, I would have actually paid whatever figure they threw at me for them to manage it.

    I'm getting SMS's and calls twice a week from the neighbour saying the builders have moved the weights, its blown over and is on a slight angle etc etc, and I actually don't even know my legal rights if it damages their aircon unit due to the builders moving the weights around.

    Relating to your issue, id just weigh up the cost of the fence vs how long you think you will be neighbours with them and if they will be an issue

    • I also had to do temporary fencing with another neighbour due to building close to the boundary. I bought and set it up.
      This is honestly in a gray area since you need certifications to set it up if it isn't on your land for your use.
      If they move a weight, is that considered erecting a temporary fence? It's a 45 degree dunny on a hot day.

  • +1

    Told him that he can suck you big fat banana for that

  • +1

    I feel the cost should have been paid by the owner of the block you bought at the time the fence was built.
    Also, nothing to say he hasn't already been paid and trying to get paid twice.

  • +1

    If only there was a short, sharp little word that conveyed your unwillingness to agree to someone asking something unreasonable of you….

    Like the opposite of "YES". Or something. I dunno.

  • Your neighbour has a right to 50% of the fence cost, but not from you…. from the owner of the property when the fence was constructed.

    Most states have a Fences Act.
    Disputes like this can end up in the Administrative Tribunals of whichever jurisdiction you live in. Even if that happens, there's no lawyers and there's no cost (to you, if he takes it that far).

    Your neighbour is being unfair by asking restitution from a new owner 3 years after the fence was constructed.
    You've done the right thing by forwarding the invoice to the previous owner, but that's as far as you need to go with this.

    Politely inform the neighbour of these facts, and explain that you intend to live here for a long time and don't wish to start the relationship on such a sour note. But you WILL NOT be paying for the fence directly. If he does wish to take it further, you'll be happy to do so.

    How much was your portion btw? $400? Most residential block fence lines aren't much in the grand scheme of things, but its the principle. You shouldn't have to pay because it was built 3 years before you even owned the property. that's ludicrous.

    • My interpretation was this was in a greenfield area, so the OP is the first owner of the property

  • +1

    About 15 years ago I signed a contract on land 45 minutes away from my house. I hadn’t purchased or even secured a loan yet when the people from behind the property came knocking on the door at 10pm one night with a bill for the fence and requesting I pay half. I don’t even know how they got my address.

    • +7

      Congrats on finding a neighbour worse than the OP's!
      I assume they did a title search when they saw property was sold.

      • +1

        How would her name be on the title when when she hadn't even paid for it? They must have been hassling the developer or previous owner and they passed on the details directly; not good. I'd be pulling them up on that, but each to their own.

    • what did you do?
      Pay?

  • +1

    Buy him a slab of beer and a thank you note for the fence.
    Done.

  • +2

    Considering you weren’t consulted on the new fence and you had no choice on the style of fence / colour of fence then you should not need to pay for it! What happens if the fence is not compatible with the house your building! You have to live with it, While the neighbour has a colour co-ordinated house!

  • Ask for the invoice before you tell him to bugger off. Hopefully he cant produce it. If he does maybe chuck him enough dollars so you arent stuck with a stupid feud forever. 1/3 sounds good

    • +3

      Nah don't ask for the invoice - that's just encouraging them.

  • Hell no, that's not how any of this works. You purchased the block as is with the fencing there. Ignore, ignore and ignore. If they erected the fence 3 years ago the only party who could of contributed would've been the developer/previous owner, they should of followed this up back then.

    • Developers don't do this and land doesn't always have previous owners..

      • +2

        Developer is previous owner

      • You talking pre-settlement Australia here chief? Previous owner or the developer, it's got to be one or the other.

  • Yep he should say he doesnt really like the fence and wont pay for it… its old and just not worth it anymore….. lol

  • Similar to another comment. Maybe say you (or your partner) don't like the fence, and that you want to have a different one erected, and see if he'll pay half?

  • I would have thought that he should have sought advice at the time, and taken it up with the prior developer/owner?

  • +3

    Just be friendly but totally ignore the fence.
    Tell them to send correspondence in writing which you are forwarding to your lawyer, but really ignore it until a court summons turns up.

    • No court is going to entertain the idea of such a case going ahead anyway.

      • It could be fun. If you win, you could get your legal cost paid for too. This could cost more than the actual fence itself. Surely that's a win right? ;)

  • Your neighbour is an arrogant prick who needs to be left alone. I'd pay absolutely nothing, and just brush it off every time he brings it up. Don't fight with him, be friendly and smile, greet, etc. but don't give one damn cent. What a shit neighbour to have, I feel sorry for you.

    • -1

      Where do you get off saying that? It's literally the norm for neighbours to share fencing costs as they both benefit equally from the fence..

      • +1

        True. They share when they are neighbours at the time the fence is erected.

        OP bought 3 years later. Not his cost to share

        • So how long after can you purchase that you no longer have to pay for the fence? 3 years you define as too long? 2 years? 1 year? 6 months? Do they need to purchase the land at the same time? Where would you say the line is?

          • +1

            @skepinjo: Personally I would have thought that if you purchased the land anytime after the fence was installed you aren’t liable

            Just like if someone tripped and hurt themselves on the land and sued, owner at the time is liable not subsequent owners

            • -1

              @parsimonious one: That's not even remotely analogous. I mean your neighbour literally added value to your property and you're saying you shouldn't have to share the cost of that value add.
              Hypothetically if you are moving into a greenfield area and you don't know when someone will purchase the block of land next door do you a) build your fence and wear the cost whether the land next door is purchased 1 day or 1 year after the fence is erected? b) wait until you have a neighbour before erecting a fence, potentially waiting years with no fence and no privacy? c) build a fence and ask your neighbour when they purchase to wear some of the cost, depreciated or otherwise?
              I mean if you don't want to wear the full cost no matter how soon after you've built the fence, someone purchases the land next door then you would have to consider yourself a hypocrite.
              If you don't think they've added value then wouldn't object to them pulling the fence down either.

  • +1

    These fees are usually shared by those on the bordering properties. If you owned the land at the time and have only just moved in - even if the land has only recently titled - then yeah, you'd have to pay that cost. Otherwise, they need to send the invoice to whoever was the land owner at the time. If the land hadn't titled or it still belonged to say a developer, they'd be that entity.

  • +6

    Looks like you are in SA.

    https://lawhandbook.sa.gov.au/ch31s02s01.php

    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."

    You have no legal obligation because you have not agreed to it in advance of it going up.

    • +1

      And even though your neighbour has paid for it, it is a joint asset. So for future repairs, you would share the cost.

  • -2

    If you don't pay then your neighbor owns it all and can do what he likes with it in the future.

    • +3

      Wrong

      • How so?

    • +11

      I found OP's neighbour

    • +3

      yes owners have to share the cost of a boundary fence this is assuming a number of things:

      1) both owners agree to have the fence built and by who and what type.
      2) both properties adjoining the fence line are actually owned at the time.

      just because they agreed does not mean that they had to, you were just lucky the owners of the land were kind enough to agree to your demand. I would have just ignored you and good luck getting anything.

      • Good luck to you too.

      • Good thing most people aren't Ozbargainers

  • I had a thought if its an estate maybe check if the estate has any rules/convenants, there might be something in there around people have right to build xyz fence when they build and charge half to new owner as long as it conforms to xyz bits. Some of these estates have specific rules they want to encourage people to build and buy asap so they try and sort this out.

  • I think I paid about 120$ per meter including removal of old fence, I would just pay it if it’s not significant. Interesting situation, I guess if they didn’t have a fence and you moved in and you had to build one you would split it.

    Maybe real question is not whether you should pay or not, it’s what is the fair price?

  • +2

    If he asks again, just be straightforward.

    "The fence was built long before I owned the property, the responsibility is with the owner of the block of land at the time of the fence being built".

    • Not too mention, have a few printouts from the links provided that is applicable to the state your house is in.

      I assume your neighbour is relying on 'good nature', in the hope that they can recover their money. Provide the details of the previous owner etc

      Best of luck, and maybe install some surveillance cameras. ;)

  • +1

    I think we've established that legally OP has $0 to pay. Now choosing an action that won't piss off your next door neighbour for the next decade (or
    more) without paying a cent, tough decision

  • Many developers put a clause in land sale contract that they don't pay for fences, even if the developer themselves hold onto the land for sale at a future date.

    To my knowledge that doesn't mean you have any obligation to build one, but it may mean nude sunbaking is out… then again, maybe it makes it more fun!

    • +2

      Even if builders put include a clause saying they aren’t liable for fence cost I can’t see how that makes someone who purchases several year later liable for a fence erected years before they were the owner.

      Moreover the fact that they would include such a clause supports the assertion that they are in fact considered the owners and thus would typically be liable.

      If OPs neighbour purchased a lot with a clause saying the developer isn’t going to share fence costs that doesn’t mean,3 years later, that OP is liable now

      • I'm not saying OP is responsible, I'm just saying the developer (what you are calling the "builder") isn't.

        Both OP and his neighbour, being on the same estate, possibly signed the same signed/witnessed contract of land sale which says the "xyz developer is not responsible for fences". Good luck in any court/tribunal with when everyone has signed this.

        When the neighbor built the fence, they should been prepared to bear 100% of the cost if that abutting land still belonged to the developer. I feel this would happen a lot and there must be formal rules for it.

        • Agreed

          “ When the neighbor built the fence, they should been prepared to bear 100% of the cost if that abutting land still belonged to the developer.”

          If they have signed something saying developer not liable for fences and the neighbouring block is owned by the developer then the OP’s neighbour should bear the costs themselves since they had no one asides the already exempted developer to share costs with.

          I can’t see how they can, 3 years down the track, hold OP liable

        • Also, whilst I agree with your sentiment regarding anyone who has signed a contract agreeing that the developer is not liable for fences, such a clause may not hold up in court under the new unfair contracts laws

          https://www.accc.gov.au/business/business-rights-protections...

          As such a term is an attempt to absolve the develop from their obligation as the lot owner when clearly they are in fact the lot owner (also I gather civil contract clauses can’t override state and commonwealth laws).

          Disclaimer: IANAL

          • @parsimonious one: You're talking about OP retrospectively testing the legality of a signed and witnessed contract written by the legal profession.

            Unless there is precedent (and developers would have had to pony up for every second fence on the estate), good luck.

            (Also, as the contract price is stated upfront on the sale, the terms may be excluded from being unfair, as per that ACCC info.)

  • -3

    Not sure if you are legally obligated to, but the norm is to pay for half the side of the fence that divides your land from their land. If you build 3 years later then you should still be splitting the cost of that portion of the fence. I mean if your neighbour could literally cut their fence in half and tell you to tell the developer to pay for your half to be put back up.
    But you come to ozbargain so you get an answered skewed towards being a tight arse

    • Well that's not how it works.

      Cheap arses can't set up their own rules and ask their neighbour/s to pay for the "3 years old fence".

      On the place of OP, I would just say… a big NO.

    • Oh Ozbargain you