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.

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  • 53
    Pay half
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    Pay none
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    • +2 votes

      It’s not that the OP is building 3yrs later.

      He’s purchased 3yrs later. Owner at the time fence was erected is liable not subsequent owners


    i built in a new estate around 5yrs ago now, they have almost finished developing the land behind me. guaranteed i'll be asking for the back fenced to be paid in half


      What about the other sides?


        both sides both neighbours paid half. fencing and retaining. its just the behind that's still being developed, for all neighbours on my street.

        i honestly think its just common curiosity to pay half for things like this


          How long before they bought their land?

          Crazy to me to pay for something someone else decided to build years before I even bought the property, but never been in this situation…

          • +1 vote

            @NigelTufnel: land all got sold at the same time, (i was the 3rd house to begin construction in the whole estate) so got in very early. whole street got sold off at the same time and all construction got done within 6-12 months of each other.

            for some reason Fairmont never started excavating the land behind our street till very recently (coming upto 6 years now)

            i do have emails back and forth with Fairmont saying payment will be made once blocks have been sold, once they mark up the land behind i'll probs flick another email off as a reminder.. end of the day the fence behind only cost me $1600 and it has been almost 6years.. even if they pull up an excuse and they dont pay i honestly wouldnt follow it up..it was 5-6yrs ago! id just let it go..but $$ is $$ i'll try my luck


          Is it your property that requires the retaining?


            @newbo: house to the left for some reason dug deeper than they had too which needed 2 fence plinth's which then carried on to my right side and then followed all the way down to the end of the street.

            back of house has 3 high

        • +1 vote

          Your case is different as it sounds like your to be neighbours owned the land when you built the fence. They have to pay half.

          OP is dealing with a situation where the previous owners (possibly the developers or original party who subdivided the lots) didn’t pay for the fence. Now for some reason their neighbour expects OP to pay, even though they bought the property as is.


          To be fair while fencing is normal to pay half, retaining not so much. Whoever is altering from natural ground level should be the one paying for that part of the retaining wall. i.e. if putting in a retaining wall helps you manage your slope and make your block flatter but does nothing for your neighbours then your neighbour shouldn't be paying for the retaining wall, but if you increase the height of the retaining wall so the neighbour can manage their slope better then they should pay for that part and vice versa.


      Ozbargain is like the meme of the dog with the ball, no take, only throw

  • +2 votes

    Get your kids to draw a $2400 cheque and stick it on his door.

    In the likelihood that you genuinely end up paying this (because you're giving off vibes of a limp biscuit), I sincerely hope he makes you wash his car, every weekend.

    • +1 vote

      Actually this post has changed me forever. Biscuit will land squarely on his chin.

    • +2 votes

      “ I sincerely hope he makes you wash his car, every weekend.”

      Haha. I’m picturing Biff at the end of Back to the Future


        It's a sweet deal!


    So let's establish Ozbargain principles here. It is your overwhelming opinion then, that a person building a house next to a vacant block should pay the full cost of fencing that perimeter and expect no compensation. Either that or leave that perimeter without a dog proof fence for however long it takes for the new home builder next door to show up.

    I say dog proof fence because some have suggested the best solution is a "temporary fence" until the new home builder turns up. Now I am not sure of what a temporary fence is but I'm sure it doesn't keep dogs in or out.

    • +6 votes

      That's really not how it works. Whether the next door land is vacant or not is not relevant, what's relevant is who owns it.

      When I started building both my next door lots were vacant. Does it mean I need to bear all the costs myself? It doesn't. I requested council to provide me details of who purchased the land which is allowed for fencing notices. When I got them, I contacted the owners to discuss fencing. Both lots were already sold but haven't started construction. If the owner was developer, then council records would show that . You can have a go at getting your money back from them but if they have a clause in the contract it's likely they'll knock it back

    • +5 votes

      No, overwhelming opinion is that whoever owns the land at the time of the fence burnt built needs to pay half. Not some random who buys the joint in 3 years time, which is OP’s situation.


        Yep, apparently a subtle but important difference

      • +1 vote

        So the principle is that the owner of a vacant block for sale, with no intention to build, is obligated to pay for half of the fencing once the owner of the adjoining block starts building.


          I understand that more than passing on the cost to someone in 3 years that never even knew the property or the fence even existed when it was built.


            @dizzle: I just found this https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/atoms/fil...

            Which gives the following scenario which seems to apply to the OPs situation

            My neighbour has claimed from me half the cost of the dividing fence he erected. I am the second owner of the property and feel that they should have got their money from the previous owner. Am I liable to pay the money claimed?

            Yes, an owner or owners of adjoining land are liable to pay even if they were not the owners of the land when the fence was constructed, provided that no previous adjoining owners had paid a claim to the owner who erected the fence. The Act does not specify any time limitations for seeking a contribution of costs between owners. If you are concerned that you may have run out of time to claim from your neighbour you should seek independent legal advice.



              @parsimonious one: It's the only fair solution, parsimonious, and meets my ethical standards.


              @parsimonious one: Impressed you all navigated my typos :-O

              So that's not the case in Vic. It seems there's wide variance by state. Here you need to have agreement before building the fence.

              It does seem a bit nuts that you're liable without an agreement or even a recorded security claim on the lot (similar to how a mortgage secured against a lot is recorded).

              I'm sure there's protections in place to stop this, but hypothetically let's say I owned a fence building business. If I put in a fence for $60k, would that mean I can claim from the next owner $30k? Again, I'm sure it's not that simple, but seems weird AF.

              • +1 vote

                @pulpfiction: Having read the attachment he put in (for WA) then no. You only have to pay half of a "sufficient fence, as defined by local government"
                So if "sufficient" for the local government means a wooden fence and they construct a metal one, you only have to pay half of the wooden fence.

                I found a couple of other strange parts there though:
                It also takes into account lifespan, so it says you would pay less 3 years after contruction, but that amount is still determined by the neighbour unless you dispute it.
                It says that a tenent (if the lease is over 5 years) is responsible for payment of 25-100% of their half depending on the length of lease.


              @parsimonious one: My thoughts are: It's like the driver that makes an accident claim against you for an accident 6 months before you purchased the car (instead of the owner at the time). Does that sound right to you?

              The Act does not specify any time limitations for seeking a contribution of costs between owners.

              So they can seek money from someone 20 years down the line, that might be the 5th owner?

              While that's an example in WA, if the neighbour sent legal documents, I'd be inclined to contest.


    Some interesting commentary on Whirlpool about this too…

    Most relevant here is that you bought the property which included anything done to it (presumably including a fence.


    Also - if a fence for $4800 is being put up, they have to get you (the original owner) to agree to the costs and types BEFORE its put up.

    You could have said to put up a fence made out of simple wood which could have cost less.

    Also, you have to factor in the overall life of a fence - say 10-15 years. If its already 3 years old you should (if you had to) pay a pro-rata rate. After all you are paying for a used product.

    At the end of the day - you need to get on with your neighbours. Sit down - talk about it. Tell them you arent paying 50% as you:

    a) weren't an owner when it was put in
    b) didn't agree on the type of fence
    c) The fence is 3 years old and he wants "as new price"
    d) You get free fencing as part of the deal with your block
    e) Your neighbour is asking for 50% of something that he took all responsibility for when he put it in. Asking for new like for like cost sharing just not right.

    Technically in a court you would have a great case, also a court would probably tell you both to grow up and work it out over a cup of tea instead of wasting court time.

    Also - technically you are supposed to share 50% of costs for boundary fencing, but in this case its historical and so there's factors that dont apply.


      A cup of tea . I think you need Don King get the ring and sort it out !


    14.5 M for $4800? That seems expensive.


      It has a single height of sleeper under each panel. Not sure that could make it cost that much but I've heard of worse pricing: it was under a deal that they'd put a sign out front and the client was happy with it.


        Are the sleepers retaining his land at all (even by a minor amount)? If so, they're classed as retaining wall, and 100% of the cost is to be borne by the benefiting party. Also, it should be completely on their land, not on the boundary.

        Not sure if you've mentioned the type of fence either, but it sounds like it's metal? You're only liable for half of a basic fence too. (I still wouldn't pay at all though)

  • +1 vote

    No. I won't be paying for something that may or may not have been negotiated with someone else, that wasn't part of the purchase condition of the property. No. No. No.


    Hey Op,

    Your settlement agent should have covered notified you of this if it was an official thing, did you take out title insurance by chance?

    You bought the block as is which fortunately included fences, sometimes you luck out!

    Sometimes your unlucky and siteworks find Limestone which costs more $$ to remove either way.
    Tell your neighbour to contact the developer or land sales office.

  • +1 vote

    to keep peace with the neighbour just simply ask why you weren't approached with fencing options ie; colour, hight, style etc, obvious answer will be that you didn't exist at time of purchase of fence… might spark a candle and see it from a different angle.


    The WA laws on fencing seem eminently reasonable to me.

    "My neighbour’s fence is ten years old. Do I have to pay for half the value of the fence when it was constructed or what it is worth now?The requirement is for payment of half the value of the fence as at the date of claim. The person making the claim has to estimate the value.If your neighbour erected a fence of a higher standard than a sufficient fence, as defined by your local government, unless you agreed to pay the higher cost, you would only have to pay half the cost of a sufficient fence.If for example, a metal fence was erected and the sufficient fence, as defined by your local government, is a fibrous cement one, the obligation is for payment of half the cost of the lesser standard fence, being the fibrous cement one. The additional cost for the higher standard fence would be borne by the adjoining owner that requires it."



    I wonder what your council regards as a "sufficient fence"?

  • +1 vote

    OP - I purchased a vacant block with fencing on 3 sides. None of the neighbors living on all 3 sides asked me to contribute to their fence nor can I even verify they haven't already been paid by the previous owner of the block. Also I just installed a fence for somebody elsewhere about $75 per meter for a metal fence. Your neighbor is being shifty to charge you $5k for 14m of fence.


      You are right. The typical rate for colourbond is about $85 per metre, or $110/m if it is an insurance job because they price gauge it. Source: I have had a lot of fencing blow down in recent years. Nobody in their right mind should pay that much for 14m.

      I once had a neighbour show me a quote for double the going rate. I suspect he made an arrangement with the tradie that he'd get part of my half back as a kickback.


    Tell them you will pay half only for a brand new one installed

  • +1 vote

    I just made an account to reply to this as it's really interesting.

    Being from WA the law would side with the owner who installed the fence, however since your in SA it actually sides with you. You do not have to pay him a cent.

    He had to have gone to the developer for costs of the fence within 30 days before building the fence with his notice of intention. To counter that, when the land was purchased the developer could have put a clause restricting the owner next door from claiming half the costs from the developer. Unless in your purchase of land contract it stated you will need to pay him half of a sufficient fence, he has no right to your money.

    Source: https://lsc.sa.gov.au/resources/FencesandtheLawBooklet.pdf
    Print that off and slap that on his door.


    I wouldn’t bother going down the legal way in SA. You won’t get very far, even on technicalities. I’m from SA and had fence dramas with my neighbour, verbally agreed for a fence in the front to seperate our properties. Neighbour built the fence on my concrete driveway by drilling holes into it and cutting into my property instead of just building it on the border line of dirt and then expected me to pay. Anyway even with lawyers I couldn’t win, they said it wasn’t worth the money to go to court. So settled and just paid. If I were you I’d not pay because you didn’t live there at the time and tell them to try and take you to court and they won’t.