This section contains information on
- stormwater protection
- protecting your neighbour's property during building works
- notes on boundary fences - neighbour disputes
Stormwater is entering my property from a neighbour’s property. Who is responsible and what can I do?
All property owners have legal obligations to capture, collect and dispose of stormwater from all hard surfaces, through underground pipes to the Council nominated Legal Point of Discharge so as not cause a nuisance to adjoining property owners.
In general, your neighbour is responsible for controlling stormwater runoff from their property. Water flowing from hard surfaces, such as paving or roofing, should be collected and discharged in an approved manner. Your neighbour is not responsible for controlling stormwater runoff from natural surfaces, such as grassed or treed areas. Any excess stormwater water caused due to significant landscaping works must also be controlled.
Problems with overland stormwater flow between neighbouring properties are generally a civil matter to be resolved between the respective owners. Council has no legislative powers to intervene. The type of action you should take depends on the cause of the stormwater.
Stormwater issues may include:
- Overland stormwater flows caused by damaged/missing downpipes or guttering or overflows from a rainwater tank
If your neighbour’s downpipes or guttering is damaged or missing (not blocked), or if your neighbour has failed to connect the overflow of a rainwater tank to their underground stormwater system, you can report this matter to Councils Building Department on 03 5261 0600 and a Building Order for Minor Works may be issued.
Notwithstanding the above, Council recommends first trying to talk to your neighbour or even writing them a short note to make them aware of the issue. You may find this leads to a quicker and more amicable resolution to the drainage issue without the need for Council to intervene. A sample note covering private drainage issues can be downloaded here.
- Overland stormwater flows caused by new landscaping/paving/concreting
If your neighbour has recently completed landscaping or installed new paved/concreted areas that have redirected or caused water to flow onto your property, this is a civil matter. Council cannot control how your neighbour landscapes or pave their property as these activities do not require Council permits or approval. You should first try to discuss the matter with your neighbour to reach a mutually suitable solution. If this doesn't work, you can contact the Dispute Settlement Centre on 03 5261 0600 for a non-legal mediation service, or take legal action through a solicitor. Liability arising out of the flow of water is an offence under the Water Act Section 16.
- Overland stormwater flows caused by the installation of a small shed - under 10m2
If your neighbour has recently erected a small shed (less than 10m2) that is causing water to flow onto your property, this is a civil matter. Council cannot control how your neighbour builds structures of this size as they do not require a building permit. You should first talk to your neighbour and try to reach a mutually suitable solution. If this doesn’t work, you can contact the Dispute Settlement Centre on 03 5261 0600 for a non-legal mediation service, or take legal action through a solicitor. Liability arising out of the flow of water is an offence under the Water Act Section 16.
If you are intending to carry out building works under a building permit, you have an obligation under the building act to protect any adjoining/neighbouring properties from potential damage.
Protection works may be required if the building work is close to neighbouring properties.
If protection works are required, you must:
Notify affected neighbours by serving a Protecting Adjoining Properties, prepared by your private building surveyor
Get appropriate insurance
Prepare a survey of adjoining properties
Pay expenses incurred
What rights and obligations do you have as an adjoining owner?
You must respond to the Protection work notice within 14 days
Response can be requesting further information or agreeing/disagreeing with proposed work
Help the owner prepare the survey before work commences
Seek reimbursement from the property owner for any reasonable expenses incurred
Specific obligations should be directed to the relevant building surveyor.
Further information can be found on the Victorian Building Authority website.
What if I don’t know my neighbours?
We can provide you with details for neighbouring properties.
Request for Land Owner Details
Notes on boundary fences – neighbour disputes
Boundary Fences are governed under the Fences Act 1968, the property owner and the neighbour are equally responsible for any dividing fence. The Act outlines things such as:
- who’ll pay for it
- what type to build
- what notices to send each other
- how to resolve disputes.
Fencing in Victoria
If you want to replace or repair the boundary fence, you or your neighbour need to reach an agreement or have a Magistrate decide for you. Your local Council has no authority to resolve disputes over fencing.
Here’s some helpful information:
Boundary fences are jointly owned property, whether on the boundary or not, and so both neighbours have rights and obligations.
Generally, the building or repairing costs are split 50/50. But this depends on factors such as:
- whether the fence needs replacing
- if one party wants a different or more expensive fence
- if one party has damaged the fence.
Typically, the new fence should be built the same as the old one but if one party wants something different they have to pay the extra cost. But both parties must agree.
Council approval generally is needed when properties have planning regulations - call our Planning Department on 03 5261 0600 before commencing any works to ensure you are not breaking any laws.
You should also refer to our Fences page to ensure you are not breaching any building regulations – usually about height.
You need your neighbour’s consent, or to have followed the right legal process, before any building or repairing. If you don’t, you won’t be able to recover building or repair costs.
If you and your neighbour can’t agree, you can take it to the local magistrates court. Until then no one can be forced to do anything.
How can I resolve my fencing dispute?
Your local council is not there to resolve your dispute. That’s done in the local Magistrates’ Court.
If you have a fencing issue, please speak to the Dispute Settlement Centre for free confidential advice and strategies to assist you in resolving any issues.
If you'd like a response from us, please give us your email address.