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Dividing fences are the source of a great deal of angst between new (and not so new) neighbours.

Dividing fences are covered by the Dividing Fences Act. In relation to dividing fences, the Department of Housing and Works has produced an excellent booklet – “Dividing Fences”, which can be freely downloaded at

Retaining walls that form part of a dividing fence are not covered by the Dividing Fences Act, but are governed by the rules of the local authority. Generally speaking, the property owner who changes the level of land, either by excavation or filling to ensure that there is no earth movement, is responsible for the cost of construction of the retaining wall, as well as any ongoing maintenance bills. Retaining walls are usually the responsibility of the owner on whose property the wall is erected.

To check your legal obligations and responsibility regarding retaining walls, you should contact the Building Department at your local council office. Requirements can differ between local governments.

13 responses to “Dividing Fences and Retaining Walls”

  1. Alex Wilson says:

    I bought my house two years ago now and there is a brick wall on the border of my property and my neighbor’s. The level of his block is about one and a half metres above the level of mine and there was no retaining wall erected. This single brick wall is leaning into our property on such an angle that it is dangerous for my kids and dogs. I have approached my neighbor and he wants me to claim through my insurance. Naturally, I gave him an answe to that straight away but I would like to know the law pertaining to it.

    • mbawa says:

      Hi Alex,

      Thanks for your inquiry. For queries related to fencing, retaining walls, boundaries, etc. it is best to contact your local council.

      Kind Regards,
      Master Builders

  2. linda o'brien says:

    I live in the City of Stirling. My neighbour is about to demolish his house and has plans drawn up for new fencing all round, retaining walls along with his house plans. I am told the fence is being pulled out after the demolition and I have given permission for the removal company to set foot on my soil.

    We are situated on the slope of a hill and he is on the lower side. There is an existing retaining wall and fence, the fence in need of repair and indeed a part of it is asbestos.
    Where do I stand on this? Where do I stand on the payment of retaining wall? That is, is it his responsibility, as I have been led to believe?

    I have read through various on line information, but would like clarification, as much as is possible, particularly on the retaining as he asking that I pay 50%

    Thank you.

    Kind regards,


    • mbawa says:

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks for your inquiry. For questions regarding fencing, retaining walls, and boundaries, please contact your local council.

      Master Builders

  3. Samantha R says:

    Hi, I’m currently building and my next door neighbour’s house is a little higher than my house and the neighbour on the other side is on the same level as my house. My house number 1 is a little lower, my neighbour-house number two, is a little higher and the neighbour number 3 on the other side of number 2 is a little lower, is in line with my house. Who is responsible for paying for the retainer that needs to go under the fence. My house as it’s lower than my neighbour, or the both of us.

    • mbawa says:

      Hi Samantha,

      Thanks for your inquiry! For fencing and boundary issues it is best to liaise with your local council.

      Master Builders

  4. Darryl Dickerson says:

    To whoem it may concern,

    There is a retaining wall directly behind our property with approximately 2 m rise from our section to the back section. The retaining wall needs maintaince, whose responsibility is it?



  5. Julie Pollock says:

    Good day,

    We live on a strata block of 8 houses and share a common driveway. All 8 houses are occupied, but the developer has still not completed the common driveway.We have been in contact with the Shire and they have advised that a retaining wall will be required in front of our house as there is going to be a turning bay between our house and our neighbours. The developer did not think that a retaining wall would be required by the Shire, however, it is and will need to be 1m high, therefore requiring Shire approval. Who is responsible for paying for the retaining wall? The retaining wall is on our boundary, and follows a gradual slope into the turning bay. The common driveway cannot be completed until the retaining wall has been installed. Please advise…kind regards, Julie

    • mbawa says:

      Hi Julie,

      Thanks for your inquiry! For questions regarding fencing and boundaries, it is best to get into contact with local council as we are unable to provide advice on this matter.

      Thanks & good luck!

      Master Builders

  6. Robin says:

    Building WA

    Hi there – I will be grateful to receive comment – thanks
    The Facts
    There are 2 retaining walls between my house and my neighbours house.
    The neighbours R/wall is set wholly within their property aligned with its leading edge abutting the boundary line.
    My R/wall is aligned parallel to theirs, but sits approx 50cm west of the boundary line and wholly within my property – my R/wall is 40cm wide. Essentially, this leaves a strip of my land 50cm wide and 30M long locked between the 2 R/walls.
    Given the width of my R/wall is 40cm and the land strip is 50cm wide, it means the dividing fence is actually sitting in total – approx 1m west of the boundary and wholly within my land.
    Sometime ago unknown to me and without my permission my neighbour installed a pergola structure between our properties. (I am led to believe planning approval is not required).
    However the pergola structure overhangs the boundary extending to within a hairs-breath of the D/fence and they have fixed it to my R/wall via metal brackets.
    Given the above issues and the fact that the D/fence sits 1m into my land, but is not aligned along the actual boundary, I am seeking the neighbour’s agreement to realign to its correct position as defined by an approved re-survey of the boundary (in accordance with the dividing fences act 1961)
    However, because the neighbour is the lower property it may mean modifying our existing R/wall, or build a new one in order to accommodate a D/fence of the correct height in the correct place.
    I have advised my neighbour accordingly and also demanded they remove the Pergola fixings from my R/wall etc, but as yet they have not adequately answered requests put to them (in accordance with the dividing fences act 1961). In essence they simply say, “The wall has been there for 17years and thus they believe I don’t have the right to move the wall”.

    In order to resolve this issue without resorting to legal action I welcome your best advice, or a point in the right direction …

    Thank you

  7. Greg Asdshead says:

    I have a 1.96m limestone retaining wall on south esast of my house built by the 1st owners of the property. Its been rebuilt once and its commencing to fail again. For 12 months I’ve advised the neighbour and they have inspected the wall. But they went and sold the property without making the new owners aware of the wall issue. There is major works required and the new owner is asking me to go half in the cost that could be as high as $25K each owner. The wall is constructed on neighbour’s boundary line. Guidance on correct and legal way to proceed if you can. Appreciate any correct guidance here.