A dividing fence is a fence that separates two privately owned properties. It does not include any fence running along a road or laneway and does not include a retaining wall. Dividing fences are governed by the Dividing Fences Act 1961 (WA) and the City’s Local Laws Relating to Fencing 2000.
NOTE: In addition to the information below, some estate developers restrict the colour, type and/or height of fences. These limitations may be set out in the estate design guidelines, a detailed area plan or a restrictive covenant registered on the land title. For more information, check your land title or contact the estate developer.
Erecting a dividing fence
The erection or replacement of a dividing fence should be discussed and agreed upon by all property owners involved before work commences. If the neighbouring lot is vacant a property owner may erect a fence without reaching an agreement and recover costs after the neighbouring lot has been developed. The Department of Commerce has developed a guide to dividing fences which outlines the rights and responsibilities of owners and the process for erecting a dividing fence.
Dividing fences are most commonly constructed of fibrous cement or colour-bonded metal. A building permit is not required for such materials provided the fence does not exceed 2 metres in height and does not extend forward of the front of the dwelling (for fencing forward of the dwelling see Front and Secondary Street Fences). In some older areas dividing fences may have been constructed of asbestos “super six” sheeting which can no longer be used in Australia.
A dividing fence may also be constructed of or incorporate masonry components, such as brick, limestone or cement panels. These materials require a building permit if they exceed 0.75 metres in height. Retaining walls along a property boundary may also require a building permit.
What is a sufficient fence?
A “sufficient fence” is the minimum standard for a dividing fence, required as a point of reference for erecting a new fence or for when property owners are in dispute. The Dividing Fences Act 1961 (WA) requires the local government to make a local law prescribing what constitutes a sufficient fence.
For the City of Gosnells, this is set out in the City’s Local Laws Relating to Fences 2017.
Disputes regarding dividing fences are a civil matter that should be resolved between the property owners involved. The City has no legislative power to intervene on such disputes, except where a fence constitutes a hazard to owners, occupiers, or the public (e.g. a broken asbestos fence or a leaning brick wall). The Department of Commerce guide for dividing fence outlines the rights and responsibilities of owners under the Dividing Fences Act 1961 and provides guidance on the dispute process.