Fences and Boundaries

Picket fence

From time to time neighbours may need to negotiate on issues concerning property boundaries, or about activities that may have an impact on each other. Below are answers to some of the common questions that arise regarding these issues.

Property boundaries 

Property boundaries are fixed by survey and defined by survey pegs. Pegs may be missing or have rotted away in some older properties, but they can be reinstated by a surveyor. It is an offence to interfere with survey pegs. 

Is it important to know where my property boundaries are?

Knowing the location of boundaries is especially important at the time of the property's purchase to guard against inheriting building encroachments or other boundary problems, and to be sure of what you are buying. Old fences and hedges are occasionally not on the boundary. The Council may require you to have a boundary defined by a surveyor when a proposed building is on or close to the boundary.

What happens if a building is over the boundary?

A building or fence over the boundary is technically a trespass for which the encroaching owner is legally responsible, whether or not they erected the building or fence. The court has certain powers to help in the case of encroachments. It is best to seek legal advice on this matter. This is a civil matter which is outside of the Council's jurisdiction. 

What is the Council's involvement in relation to boundary fences?

Boundary fencing between private properties is a civil matter between the owners. The Council only becomes involved when a fence is proposed that exceeds the height limits specified in the relevant zone, such as when a resource consent is required.  

What is a Licence to Occupy?

A Licence to Occupy is a legal agreement between the landowner (the licensor) and the occupier (the licensee), whereby the licensor permits the licensee non-exclusive occupation of the premises for a short period of time, typically six months or 12 months. Occupation is 'non-exclusive' as the licensor can also occupy the premises or alternatively grant further licences to other occupiers.


The Fencing Act 1978 requires that unless there is a specific agreement between owners, fences must be located on the boundary line. The Council only becomes involved if the fence is above the permitted height.

Information about permitted fence heights in the District Plan

Who pays for a boundary fence?

In general, the owners of adjoining properties must equally share the cost of site preparation, surveying, materials, construction, replacement, repairs and maintenance. If you want to build or replace a fence, first talk to your neighbour to see if they will agree to share the cost of the work. Such agreement is best confirmed in writing. This is a civil matter which is outside of the Council's jurisdiction. 

If you fail to reach an agreement with your neighbour, there is a process you can use set out in the Fencing Act 1978. To start this process, give your neighbour a 'fencing notice'. If your neighbour does not agree, refer the situation to the Disputes Tribunal.

If a fence is accidentally damaged, the repairs should be met by the party who caused the damage. If the damage is caused by a natural event, either neighbour can carry out the work without giving notice to the other. The neighbour who does the work can then recover half of the cost from the other. 


Is my neighbour allowed to excavate up to my boundary?

Earthworks carried out as part of a building consent will be checked by the Council as part of the building consent process. The District Plan also has controls over the quantity of earthworks cuts and fills, and earthworks on steep slopes. Otherwise earthworks are a civil matter.

Rules and performance standards to determine whether you need resource consent for earthworks.(PDF, 134KB)

Easements and right-of-ways

What is an easement?

An easement is a legal arrangement between a landowner and another party to use a property for a particular purpose, and is registered against the property's title. Easement details are shown on the certificate of title. An example of a common easement is for vehicle access over a property by someone who is not the property owner. 

Do I have to pay towards right-of-way maintenance?

The law requires all occupiers of land who use a vehicular right of way to contribute to its cost, unless a contrary intention is expressed in the document creating the right of way. The courts have the power to decide issues and disputes in relation to easements and right-of-ways. The court may modify or extinguish them. It is best to seek legal advice on this issue. This is a civil matter which is outside of the Council's jurisdiction. 


What can I do if my neighbour's stormwater comes through my property?

The Council investigates stormwater issues when they arise from work that has or should have had a building consent, or results from overflow from the street. Otherwise, stormwater is a private matter. For any issues relating to stormwater, the Infrastructure Team at Council can be contacted on 06 349 0001.

Swimming pool fencing

A swimming pool is any structure or product containing water over 400mm deep that is used or capable of being used for swimming, wading, paddling or bathing, and includes spa and inflatable pools.

All pools must be fenced following the guidelines required under the Building Code clause F9.

A building consent from the Council is required for the installation of pools and pool fencing. Call the Building Services team to find out if you need a consent on 06 349 0001.