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Disputes with Neighbours

The best way to handle neighbour disputes is to talk things out and try to work out a solution. It’s in your best interest to come to an agreement, as you could be living next to each other for a long time to come. What if you can’t? In this case, you should speak to a property lawyer about your rights and see if there is a way, such as mediation, to solve the dispute.

The most common causes of neighbour disputes include dividing fences, overhanging tree branches, noise, privacy, as well as pets.

Dividing fences

If neither you nor your neighbour want a dividing fence between your houses, you don’t need one. However, if one of you wants to erect a dividing fence, then the other party is obliged by law to pay half of the costs to erect a “sufficient” fence, which is defined as a fence that is the minimum standard of fencing in an area. If either party wants a more expensive fence, then that party is required to pay the price difference.

Since both you and your neighbour are sharing the fence, you have to share any repair or replacement cost. However, if the fence is damaged due to human negligence or recklessness, then the party responsible for the damage needs to pay the repair cost.

If you have a dispute with your neighbour over a dividing fence and cannot reach an agreement, you may need to speak to a property lawyer and make an application to your local authority.

Overhanging tree branches

If a tree in your neighbour’s yard overhangs into your yard, you should check with your local council to find out whether there is a tree preservation order on that tree. Such order prevents you or anyone from pruning or removing the tree. If there is no TPO on the tree and your neighbour refuses to prune it, you may have the right to cut the branch. You should seek advice from a property lawyer before cutting it.

If your Sydney property is damaged by your neighbour’s overhanging tree branch and your neighbour refuses to pay for the repair, you may be entitled to sue your neighbour for damages. Your property lawyer can advise you of your rights to prevent damages to your Sydney property.

Noise

Many neighbour disputes are noise-related. If the noise coming from your neighbour’s house is too loud that it disturbs your daily life, you should nicely speak to your neighbour to see if they can reduce the noise. If they refuse, then your property lawyer can advise you of ways to resolve this dispute.

If the noise happens late at night, you can contact the police as they have the power to contact your neighbour and ask them to stop. If the noise comes from power tools and machinery, you should check with your local council and Environmental Protection Agency to see if your neighbour has broken any rules. If all else fails, your property lawyer may advise you to take the dispute to a Community justice Centre or even to your Local Court.

Privacy

There is no legal right to privacy in NSW. In other words, your neighbour is allowed to listen to and look at what’s happening on your Sydney property. You can try to block your neighbour’s view by planting tall trees or building high fences around the perimeter of your property, but you have to make sure that the trees and fences do not block your neighbour’s light or view. If your neighbour’s nosiness is getting out of hand and border on harassment, you should call the police or talk to your property lawyer about obtaining a personal protection order.

Pets

If your neighbour’s pets enter your Sydney property without your permission, the entry is considered a trespass. If your neighbour refuses to restrain their pets, you have the right to call animal services.

DISCLAIMER: The content of this publication does not constitute legal advice and is intended only to provide a summary and general overview  We do not guarantee that it is current.  You should seek specialist legal advice or other professional advice about your specific circumstances.  Your access to this publication is not intended to create nor does it create a solicitor-client relationship between you and Unified Lawyers.

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