This information refers to dividing fences and front fences and prescribes what a sufficient fence is and the requirements based on the City’s local law.
A dividing fence is a fence that separates the residential land of different owners, whether the fence is on the common boundary or adjoining land or on a line other than a common boundary. In some circumstances, a front fence may also be a dividing fence.
Should an owner seek to construct a dividing fence, they must meet the obligations as defined in the Dividing Fences Act 1961 prior to constructing a fence. The City does not administer the Dividing Fences Act 1961.
The Local Government Act 1995 enables local governments to prepare local laws for the purpose of regulating and controlling, amongst other things, development within the City that is in the public interest. Property owners can still decide what type of fence they want as long as it does not conflict with the local law.
The City’s local law requirements do not apply if agreement has been reached between property owners over the standard of a residential fence, which is lower than 1.8 metres in height.
A sufficient fence on a residential lot is a dividing fence or boundary fence which is 1.8 metres in height constructed and maintained in accordance with the local law. If there is a variance in height between properties, the measurement is taken on the higher side of the two properties.
The following details form part of the main requirements for a dividing fence:
- A fence constructed with an in-ground depth of 25 percent of the total length of the sheet but having a minimum in-ground depth of 600mm
- The total height and depth of the fence to consist of a single continuous fibre reinforced cement sheet
- The sheet to be lapped and capped with extruded “snap-fit” type capping in accordance with the manufacturers written instructions
- The height of the fence to be 1.8 metres.
The following are the main requirements for a front fence:
- The front fence must be constructed of masonry or composite fencing with a masonry content of not less than 30 percent
- Alternative fencing types that are permitted include picket timber fence, fence constructed of brick or stone or a composite fence
- Front fences, which are proposed to be built to enclose a swimming pool or spa, are required to be designed to meet with the requirements of the Residential Design Codes and AS1926.1 (as amended).
Approval procedure for front fencing
A person must not erect a free standing fence greater than one metre in height within the front setback area without obtaining a building permit from the City. Any fencing within the front setback area of a property may also require Planning approval from the City prior to commencing construction, if the solid portion of the fence exceeds 1.2 metres in height as measured from natural ground level, or if your property is a strata property.
Please note, that if a fence is to be constructed above an existing or proposed retaining wall, the total allowable height is still required to be measured from natural ground level, which may be at the bottom of the retaining wall.
A front boundary fence has to be reduced to no more than 750 millimetres in height within 1.5 metres of a driveway. Alternatively the fence may be truncated to 45 degrees at 1.5 metres away from the driveway back on to the property if the wall height of 1.2 metres is to be maintained. The reduction in height of the wall or the truncation is required to provide a clear line of vision for a motorist using the driveway.
If a fence is of open construction and does not obscure lines of vision of a motorist, the above visual truncations are not required.
Fencing adjoining public open space and pedestrian access ways
Please refer to the City’s Policy – Subdivision and Development Adjoining Areas of Public Open Space.
Variation of Local law
The City may approve the erection of a fence which does not comply with the requirements of the local law. In determining a variation, the City may consider whether the erection or retention of a fence would have an adverse impact on:
- The safety or convenience of any person
- The safety or convenient use of any land.
Maintenance of Fences
An owner or occupier of a lot on which a fence is erected shall maintain the fence in good condition and so as to prevent it from becoming dangerous, dilapidated, unsightly, or prejudicial to the amenity of the locality. Please refer to the Building Commission’s Dividing Fences A Guide booklet.
Prohibited Fencing Materials
The following fencing materials are prohibited:
- Broken glass
- Barbed wire
- Razor wire
- Jagged projections
- Asbestos materials (not to be reused or realigned).
Gates in Fences
A gate in a fence may swing out from a property but it is an offence to allow such a gate to remain open.
A public access way, right of way or road must not be impeded by the construction of a fence.
Anti graffiti treatment is required for any fence or wall adjacent to a public place or reserve.
This must be carried out in accordance with manufacturer specifications. Where these works are carried out an identification plate identifying the graffiti protection must be fixed to the wall with any manufacturers recommended treatment.
A building permit application is required for front fences over one metre in height and dividing fences exceeding two metres in height. The following information is required with your completed application.
- Two copies of a site plan drawn to a scale of not less than 1:200. Please indicate if the property abuts a reserve or private lot
- Sectional elevation showing the footing details or depth of sheeting, attached piers and holding down rods where relevant
- Front elevations and/or side/rear where relevant drawn to scale of 1:100
- Specification of materials and finishes.
If additional information is required we will contact you promptly following the lodgement of your application.
A planning application may also be required if your front fence exceeds 1.2 metres in height above natural ground level. For further information on submission requirements please refer to the City’s Planning Application Checklist available at the City’s Customer Service Centres or online.
Please note that the City is only able to advise on minimum fencing requirements under local laws.
The City has jurisdiction over boundary construction work, such as retaining walls and parapet walls; however, if there is a dispute between adjoining owners regarding dividing fences please refer to the section ‘Community Mediation Service’ below .
Community Mediation Service
Sometimes communication breaks down or issues cannot be resolved between adjoining property owners, particularly in respect to dividing fences, regardless of the attempts to address concerns or differences of opinion. It is at this point that mediation can assist.
The City offers an independent mediation service for residents and property owners in the City of Joondalup which can assist in the matter.
What is Mediation
Mediation is a primary dispute resolution method whereby parties in dispute can meet in the presence of mediators, who are both neutral and independent, to resolve disputes between parties and negotiate a fair and workable outcome.
The first point of contact for mediation will be the City’s Customer Relations Advocate, and the process will be coordinated and conducted by the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). The mediation process is guided by two experienced and professionally qualified mediators.
Should you wish to seek further information regarding mediation, please contact the City’s Customer Relations Advocate on 9400 4942. Alternatively, you may wish to seek legal advice regarding the matter.
Please refer to Building Services Schedule of Fees and Planning Services Schedule of Fees online.
For further information or assistance relating to fencing requirements please contact the City on 9400 4961.
For further information regarding dividing fences, please refer to the publication “Dividing Fences A Guide” available from the City, or the Building Commission of Western Australia.
For information regarding pool and spa fences please refer to the City’s Fact Sheet ‘Safety Barriers for Pools and Spas’.
You may also wish to contact the Building Commission Western Australia directly regarding dividing fences rights and responsibilities under the Dividing Fences Act 1961, or safety barriers for pools and spas via the contact details below:
Building Commission of Western Australia on 1300 489 099 or online.