Resolving neighbourhood dividing fence disputes

Fences can be more than physical boundaries – in the past they have caused neighbourly disputes due to lack of knowledge of the laws. New laws in regards to who is responsible and what is allowed to be done between neighbour dividing fences will go a long way to settling fence disputes and opening the gate for amicable solutions.

Problems that have caused disputes between neighbours in the past include:

  • Who is responsible for the cost of the dividing fence?
  • Which neighbour should pay for wear and tear or damage to a dividing fence?
  • Is a retaining wall acceptable as a dividing fence.

Basic rules

There should be a sufficient dividing fence between two boundaries if an adjoining owner requests one regardless of whether the land has a house on it or not.
Generally neighbours must contribute equally to the cost of a sufficient dividing fence being built and maintained.

Who owns a fence?

A dividing fence is owned equally by the adjoining neighbour’s if it is built on the common boundary line. However, a fence or part of a fence built on one neighbour’s land is owned by that neighbour, even if the other neighbour contributed to the construction of the fence.

Who pays for what?

Adjoining neighbours are each liable for half the cost of fencing work to build or maintain a sufficient dividing fence. However, where one neighbour wants to have more work done than is necessary for a sufficient dividing fence then they may be liable to pay the extra expenses. For example, if a neighbour wants a higher fence for privacy or security they should meet this extra cost.

The Act and retaining walls

The Act states that a fence is not a retaining wall. This is because retaining walls serve a different purpose than fences. They are engineered to support built-up or excavated earth. Retaining walls are not normally a matter of joint responsibility for neighbours because a retaining wall is usually of more benefit to one neighbour.


The above information should be treated as a guide only. See your local authority for more information.

You can read more about the Queensland Dividing Fences Legislation here.