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Recent bushfires across Australia have had a devastating impact and generated considerable national and international attention.

In South Australia, we have seen their impact on numerous farming properties throughout the Adelaide Hills, Kangaroo Island and beyond, with many landowners losing homes, livestock, and infrastructure.

If your property has been affected by a bushfire, there are a range of issues that you are likely dealing with. An important issue for a lot of properties is fencing which has been damaged and, as a result, you might be wondering what you need to do in order to quickly rebuild damaged or destroyed fences.

Usually, if a person wishes to repair or erect a fence, the Fences Act 1975 requires that a notice of intention to perform building work be given to the adjoining land owner. Information required in the notice includes:

  1. the length and position of the fence;
  2. nature of the fence;
  3. a cost estimate; and
  4. the amount the person wishes to recover from the neighbour.

The adjoining neighbour has 30 days to respond before the fence can be erected or repaired.

As you can imagine, both the information required within the notice and the consent of the other party imposes a delay on farmers or other property owners seeking to repair or erect a fence to contain their livestock or protect their property.

The good news is that under section 16 of the Act, where a dividing fence has been damaged or destroyed and there is an urgent need to repair or restore the fence, the fence can be repaired or replaced without giving notice to the adjoining landowner. In such a situation the relevant portion of the costs for the repair or installation of a new fence are able to be recovered after the event.

For farmers and landowners who have been affected by these recent fires, it will be a long and arduous task to rebuild. Some of the practical issues, such as the repair or rebuilding of fences, will be easier to resolve than others. Whilst it will take longer than a few weeks or months for many of those affected to get back on track, it has been heartening to see such widespread support from the South Australian community..