We’ve all heard of the saying “love thy neighbour”, however it is sometimes difficult to feel this way if your neighbour is breaching residential noise restrictions or if you are in the middle of a boundary or fencing dispute.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re in the middle of a dispute with a neighbour, especially as you probably see them every day! Thankfully, you don’t have to put up with an uncooperative neighbour, there are legal options available to help resolve your dispute.

What can I do about my noisy neighbours?

Noise pollution can be described as harmful or reasonably interfering with someone’s comfort. The Protection of the Environment Operations (Noise Control) Regulation 2017 provides a list of when certain noises from a variety of domestic activities should not be heard by neighbours.

If you have been unable to resolve the noise issue by speaking to your neighbour, you can make a complaint to the police or your local council who can fine your neighbour. If a fine doesn’t make the noise pollution stop, you can make an application to the Local Court for a Noise Abatement Order. We strongly urge you to make an appointment with one of our lawyers to assist you with this application to increase the chance of an order being granted.

If you are a tenant in a strata scheme, you can complain to the strata manager or owner’s corporation. If this doesn’t resolve the problem, you can participate in mediation or apply to the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for Orders. We recommend you seek legal advice to help you prepare for mediation or making an application to NCAT.

My neighbour and I are involved in a fencing dispute, what can I do?

Generally, neighbours are required to equally share the cost of building a dividing fence. Your neighbour will only be required to pay for half the cost of a sufficient dividing fence. What is considered as a “sufficient dividing fence” will depend on things such as, the type of fence currently standing (if any), privacy considerations and the purpose for which your neighbour uses their land. If a neighbour has damaged the dividing fence, then they are solely responsible for the cost of repairing the fence to the standard it was before the damage.

Although fencing disputes can seem straightforward at face value, they can often become complicated when there’s situations where for example, a part of a dividing fence serves as a swimming pool fence, a crumbling retaining wall sits under or beside a dividing fence, or whether you can lawfully enter a neighbour’s property to make urgent repairs to a dividing fence.

If any of the above situations apply to you or you are unable to reach an agreement as to what is a sufficient dividing fence in your situation, we recommend you make an appointment with one of our lawyers to discuss your options and understand your rights and responsibilities.

What do I do if I’m having trouble determining a common boundary line between me and my neighbour’s properties?

If you and your neighbour want to build a fence between your properties but do not agree on where the dividing fence should go, you can serve a Boundary Notice on your neighbour. If you are served with a Boundary Notice, you have seven days to peg out where you believe the boundary is or if you do not know, you can hire a surveyor to determine this for you. It is important to abide by the Boundary Notice within seven days otherwise your neighbour may claim half the cost of the Surveyor’s fees from you.

To determine the common boundary line for any other reason besides a dividing fence, you can submit an application to the Registrar General for a “Determination of Title Boundary.” The submissions made in responding to an application for a “Determination of Title Boundary” can involve a substantial amount of work and you have 21 days to file your submissions. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice to ensure your submissions are relevant and concise.

Conclusion

If your neighbour continues to breach noise pollution laws, you can report them to police or your local council. If this still doesn’t resolve the offensive noise, you can apply for a Noise Abatement Order. If you and your neighbour have a dividing fence dispute, you need to make yourself aware of the requirements of a “sufficient dividing fence” so you are aware of your rights and responsibilities. Agreeing on a common boundary line can be a complicated task between neighbours, if you cannot agree on where the boundary line is, you can make an application to the Registrar General to help determine this.

As stated above, neighbourhood disputes can often become complicated and stressful to parties involved, which is why we recommend you speak to one of our lawyers who can help settle your matter without delay.

If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us on (02) 9818 2888 or email info@dsplawyers.com.au.