I have a house that is being built and is almost at the completion stage, should be finished in about a month or so. My neighbor who has built a fence about 4 years ago is now asking for the fence money. He sold the property in January and is now awaiting settlement which is probably why he decided to ask for the fence money before he moved out. My question is this, seeing how he sold before my house has been completed do I have any legal obligations to pay him the money or is he just fishing ?
Thanks for your response.
There was no notice given, not that it would have made any difference since my land was empty and vacant at the time. According to the fence act I don’t have to pay for it until I have completed a substantial building on the land. What I couldn’t find is any reference to WHEN is a building considered completed.
practical completion occurs when a certificate of occupancy – or equivalent for your state – has been issued
I note that we have been in dispute with our neighbour about a dividing fence – but in the ACT.
Under that legislation – written quotes have to be submitted before an owner can utilise the legal options under the legislation. There has to be agreement on the quotes – but if there is no agreement – then you can go to the Magistrates Court and get an order for a contribution to 1/2 the normal adjoining fence. There is actually a mediation process involved.
Fortunately we have recently have reached resolution – after 16 months – and we won’t need to utilise the legal options. But in your case – I don’t believe your neighbour has any grounds to insist on a contribution from you for the fence.
Any fences that existed on the property when you bought it were included in your purchase price, as they could have been paid for by the previous owner. If the previous owner was the original developer then your neighbour lucked out, as a developer usually has a clause to state that they are not liable for half shares in fences for unsold neighbouring blocks. If your neighbour chose to erect a fence before the land around him was sold then he assumed total costs.
Any fence constructed after purchase should have been done so with your approval in writing after quotes were agreed upon as mentioned above.