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Chris The Lawyer
Chris The Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: New Zealand Law
Satisfied Customers: 22683
Experience:  38 years qualified as a lawyer; LLB, MMgt and FAMINZ.
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We came home from holiday and our neighbour has cut down

Customer Question

We came home from holiday and our neighbour has cut down trellis on our side of the fence. He has also hammered wooden palings onto the rest of the fence over the height of the fence. This is the house at the back of us. Previously he had been around to the next door neighbour to us to complain about their trampoline. We were not keen on the tramp but agreed with our next door neighbour to install trellis to 2m. We put three panels of this trellis along the back fence - where the neighbour at the back had intalled a retractable cloths line and hammered some palings to it - in high winds we had their washing flapping over. This stopped their washing and also restricted their view of next doors trampoline. The neighbour at the back then came over and complained that all our trellis including the trellis on the fence we share with our next door neighbour was too high and was 2.4m. He said he did not mind if we continued with trellis the entire way as long as it was 1.8m. We agreed to leave the two panels of trellis where his washing line was attached and to lower the third panel of trellis and to get a quote to continue it along. Next day we had a planner out to our place called by the neighbour behind about the fence. The planner gave us a letter to say it complied. We now have an eysore of a fence - which we initially put up on our side of the boundary - the house is five years old and was built before the house behind was put up. We don't know whether just to try to cover it up but feel a bit bullied and don't know what he will do next.
JA: Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Otago
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: No apart from the planner who gave the all clear on the trellis.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Not sure - don't know what to do. We don't want the neighbour to start a war with us.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: New Zealand Law
Expert:  Chris The Lawyer replied 4 months ago.

I am reading this now

Expert:  Chris The Lawyer replied 4 months ago.

Generally work on a fence must be done jointly, under the Fencing Act, and there is a procedure in place with fencing notices and cross notices to resolve disputes, with the Disputes Tribunal as the place where these are resolved. So your neighbour has trespassed by removing the trellis on your side, and is liable for any damages. Any work on the fence such as adding wooden palings should be after discussion and by consent. Obviously you do not want to open a dispute with him but would prefer to resolve matters by discussion. In this situation sometimes setting up a more formal meeting with an independent facilitator to keep the peace, may be a better solution, and you could discuss ways to make the fence look better by consent rather than unilateral action. If discussion is not possible then you could take the dispute to the Disputes Tribunal but hopefully discussion will solve the problem

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