As real estate prices continue rising in New Zealand, many home-owners are considering how they can best make use of the extra land on their blocks. If you are planning to build a subdivision or even just mark the borders of a piece of land, you may be wondering about the council’s restrictions on the height of your boundary fence.
First, let’s talk about consent
If any part of your fence is on a shared boundary with a neighbour, you will need to both agree to the fence and discuss how the costs will be shared equally.
You’ll need to come to an agreement with them about building the fence, as well as details such as how high the new fence should be, what building materials it will be made of, and how much to spend on it.
The Fencing Act 1978 provides that in general the occupiers of neighbouring properties that are not divided by an adequate fence have to contribute equally to the cost of work on a fence. If there is no fence or you think the existing fence is inadequate or in need of repair, then you can expect that your neighbour will share the costs of getting the fence built or repaired, however you can agree to share the cost differently.
Once you are in agreement it’s preferable to get it all down in writing, for future reference.
If you change your mind about the type of fence you want, you’ll need to consult with your neighbour to ensure they agree to it. If your neighbour moves before the fencing work begins you’ll need to make a new agreement with the new neighbour.
If you aren’t able to come to an agreement about the details of building a fence, you can serve your neighbour with a Fencing Notice.
A Fencing Notice sets out the work one person wants to have carried out on the fence and the contribution they are seeking from their neighbour.
It must state:
- the boundary along which the fencing work is to be done
- the work to be carried out and the materials to be used
- the consequences if the neighbour does not comply with the notice
- an estimate of the cost of the work
- how the cost will be shared (if the costs are not to be shared equally).
This manual on fence requirements is a handy resource if you have any concerns regarding the rules for building on a shared boundary.
How high is too high
In New Zealand, you can usually build a fence up to 2 metres in height without getting planning consent from the local council. In the Auckland City Council area consent is generally only required above 2.5m. However, you should always check with your local council to make sure. It may be that you live in a special heritage area or are affected by rules in the district plan that mean you cannot build your fence this high.
As with any building project, it is always best to check the building requirements for your local council area before you start building to avoid any fines or disputes later on.