fencing act legislation boundary fence The Fencing Act 1978

The original Fencing Act of 1908 has had many amendments over the years.  There was a major main amendment in 1979, and then the Fencing of Swimming Pool Act 1987.

Definition of a rural boundary fence

7 or 8 wire fence:

A substantial wire fence, having 7 or 8 wires properly strained, with up to 2 of these wires as galvanized barbed wire, or with 1 galvanised barbed wire and a top rail; barbed wires to be placed in a position agreed upon by the persons interested, or to be omitted if those persons agree; the posts to be of durable timber, metal, or reinforced concrete, and not more than 5 m apart, and securely rammed and, in hollows or where subject to lifting through the strain of the wire, to be securely footed, or stayed with wire; the battens(droppers) to be affixed to the wires and of durable timber, metal or plastic, evenly spaced, and not fewer than 3 between posts; the wires to be galvanised and of 2.5 mm high tensile steel or 4 mm steel or its equivalent; the bottom wire to be not more than 125 mm from the ground, the next 3 wires to be not more than 125 mm apart; and the top wire or rail to be not less than 1 m from the ground.

9 or 10 wire fence:

A substantial wire fence having 9 or 10wires properly strained, with or without battens (droppers) or lacing affixed to the wires between the posts or standards; the posts or standards to be of durable timber, metal, or reinforced concrete, well and substantially erected, and not more than 5m apart, the top wire not to be less than 1 m from the ground surface, the wires to be galvanised, and of 2.5 mm high tensile steel or 4 mm steel, or its equivalent, the space between the ground and the bottom wire not to exceed 100 mm, the 4 bottom wires to be not more than 130 mm apart.

Prefabricated (netting) fence:

A substantial wire netting fence properly strained of a minimum height of 1 m; the netting to have at least 7 horizontal wires, and, if necessary, extra wires above or below the netting, one of which may be a galvanized barb wire, all other wires to be galvanised in either 2.5 mm high tensile steel or 4 mm steel, or its equivalent; the vertical stays of the netting to be galvanised wire, and not more than305 mm apart; posts or standards to be not more than 5 m apart, and of durable timber, metal, or reinforced concrete; additional battens (droppers) may be installed between the posts if both parties agree; the overall fence to be well and substantially erected.

Live fence:

A close and sufficient live fence.

NOTE: A boundary fence may be modified by mutual agreement.  High tensile 3mm wire is much more likely to be used for the fence today rather than No. 8 gauge.

Key points from the Act and various amendments.
  • You are not allowed to erect a fence that "encroaches to any degree" on any land of which you are not the occupier.
  • If you want to put up a boundary fence between you and your neighbour -the cost has to be shared equally between both of you.
  • If your neighbour won't contribute half of the cost, then you can "serve a notice" on him with estimates of cost.
  • If your neighbour does not accept this, he can within 21 days serve a cross notice setting out his objections.
  • This process of servicing notices and cross notices within intervals of 21 days can continue and if mutual agreement is not reached, then it has to go to court.
  • Any occupier of land who damages a fence is liable for its restitution.
WARNING: You would be well advised to consult a lawyer in the interpretation of the Act if you have concerns or run into problems with owners of adjoining properties.
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