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Neighbourhood Disputes (WA)

Disputes often arise between neighbours living in urban and suburban areas. These disagreements may concern noisy animals, loud parties, overhanging trees or a fence that needs to be repaired or replaced. Most neighbourhood disputes can be resolved by talking directly to the other party and arriving at a solution that is acceptable to both neighbours. If a situation cannot be resolved directly, a complaint can be made to your local council or to the police. You can also take action in court. This page deals with neighbourhood disputes in Western Australia.

Neighbourhood disputes about fences

When a fence needs to be built, replaced or repaired, the costs of this work are usually split evenly between residential neighbours. However, if one neighbour is responsible for causing damage to a fence or wants a more expensive fence than the other neighbour does, the costs involved may be divided unequally.

When a person wants to carry out work on a dividing fence, they should first approach their neighbour and try to reach an agreement with them about the type of fencing work to be done and how they will share the costs.

If an agreement cannot be reached, the person should serve a written notice on their neighbour setting out the proposed work and how costs are proposed to be divided.

If the parties do not agree about the fencing work, either party may apply to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the Notice being received.

Fence disputes in WA are governed by the Dividing Fences Act 1961.

Neighbourhood disputes about trees

Neighbourhood disputes are sometimes about trees that are affecting a neighbour’s property. This is usually due to overhanging branches or protruding roots.

If you are being affected by your neighbour’s tree, talk to them about the situation first.

If your neighbour’s tree is overhanging your property, you are permitted to prune it back (at your own expense) without the neighbour’s permission. However, you are not allowed to go onto their property to do this without their permission. You must not prune a tree that is protected by a tree preservation order.

If you cannot come to an agreement with your neighbour, you may want to consider seeking the help of a mediation service.

Neighbourhood disputes about pets

Legislation including the Dog Act 1976 sets out the responsibilities of people keeping domestic animals in WA. Local councils can also make by-laws about the number of animals that residents may keep and about their care and control. There are criminal offences relating to failures to care and control animals properly.

Disputes may arise between neighbours about animals – including noise, unhygienic animal enclosures, or damage to or trespass on neighbouring properties. If a person is concerned about their neighbour’s animals, they should first talk to the neighbour directly about the situation. If the situation cannot be resolved privately, a complaint can be made to the local council, or to the local police

Neighbourhood disputes about noise

Neighbourhood disputes about excessive noise coming from a residential property are also common. In WA, noise is regulated by the Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997.

Power tools and other noisy equipment must not be used for more than two hours a day between 7 am and 7 pm Monday to Saturday, or between 8 am and 7 pm on Sunday. Building sites are exempt from these restrictions.

Excessive noise sometimes amounts to a private nuisance. If the noise is so severe that it affects your quality of life, you can make an application for a court order requiring the neighbour to stop making the noise and/or pay compensation.

Breaches of noise restrictions may also amount to a criminal offence. If you make a complaint about excessive noise to your local council, an environmental health officer will usually attend to advise the neighbour about the complaint. If the situation does not resolve, a noise reading may have to be taken to assess whether noise restrictions are being breached.

If you are affected by noise from a pub or club, you can complain to the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor Licensing. There are strict rules for these venues with respect to noise in residential areas. 

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal. 

Fernanda Dahlstrom

This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

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