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   Mar 21

Neighbourhood fence laws under review

Laws surrounding dividing fences are under review in Queensland. Photo: Steven SiewertIt is perhaps the most likely of legal disputes in which many people would find themselves.
Nanjing Night Net

The policing of the property boundary, the root cause of so many neighbourhood disputes, is in the midst of a legal review.

Queensland Law Reform Commission chairman David Jackson said the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act, which passed Parliament in 2011, had been operating for three years.

Former attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie referred the legislation to the QLRC last October.

As such, the QLRC had been asked to review its operation and effectiveness and its discussion paper has since been published for public comment.

“The commission wants to hear the views of the community about how the Act is working in practice and whether it can be improved,” Justice Jackson said.

Justice Jackson said the Act clearly set out what neighbours can and cannot do if a dispute arose.

“The Act provides rules about each neighbour’s responsibility for dividing fences and for trees so that neighbours are able to resolve any issues about dividing fences and trees without a dispute arising,” he said.

“Where neighbours are not able to resolve those issues, the Act has different mechanisms to help neighbours facilitate the resolution of any disputes about dividing fences or trees.”

Among the review’s terms of reference were: Whether the allocation of responsibilities, liabilities and rights under the Act promoted resolution by neighbours of issues relating to dividing fences and trees;Whether dispute resolution processes under the Act were fair, just and effective;The simplicity and ease of use of the Act for members of the community;Whether the Act provided the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal with sufficient powers to resolve issues;The remedies and penalties provided in the Act;QCAT’s power to make orders to protect the severe obstruction of a view;The ability of a neighbour to serve a notice on a tree owner to prune overhanging branches; and Whether the scope of the Act should be expanded to include disputes about retaining walls built on neighbouring properties’ boundaries.

The deadline for public submissions is Monday, August 10.

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