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Is there a law saying you aren’t allowed to build on someone else’s land?

By beejay76 19 April 2011 72

We have a wee problem with a neighbour. They’ve built a deck that extends past their boundary and onto our land.

After the usual argy-bargy, we lodged a complaint with ACTPLA (at the advice of ACTPLA, mind you) only to be told that it’s outside their authority. This is apparently because the structure was exempt from a DA.

Does this mean that in the ACT if you build a structure that doesn’t require a DA you can build it wherever you like? Is the onus then on the lessee of that land to go through the expense of a civil action to make you remove it? That doesn’t sound at all right to me.

Does anyone out there know anything about this?

What’s Your opinion?


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72 Responses to
Is there a law saying you aren’t allowed to build on someone else’s land?
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The Antichrist 9:22 pm 05 May 11

You have got to be kidding about the termites right ? Like getting rid of 1 planks-width of timber from that deck, is going to stop them moving oh, what, about 200mm to get to your timber house frame ??? lmfao buddy – termites will travel up to 20m to get a good feed !!!

Sounds to me like a serious case of deck-envy. It looks just about big enough to swing a cat. Yay for 400sq m blocks !!!

Innovation 10:12 am 29 Apr 11

I know it sounds to some like beejay76 is being a pain but, without further info, he might have a point. We would need to see a better photo that is against the wall (and shows the length of the wall along the termite barrier) and know more about what structure is behind the wall.

For example, many areas allow garage and courtyard walls along or very near the edge of boundaries. These walls are usually masonry only construction (eg cavity brick) which reduces the risk of access to other parts of the house by termites (although they could still get indirect access to other walls or into the roof). In this case, the wall seems to be longer than a typical garage suggesting special planning laws that allow parts of the house to be adjacent to the boundary also. If the house is a cavity brick with a timber frame then the termite barrier is especially important.

Also, re boundaries, often the walls constructd are slighty inside the ownder’s boundary to allow for the gutter to be adjacent to the boundary and outside the wall (rather than on top of the wall which causes all sorts of drainage issues). In this case, the gutter looks like it is just inside the owner’s boundary.

As far as I am aware, a termite barrier is not designed to prevent termite access to the house. It is designed to bring termites out in to the open before they get access to the house. This is why inspection is so important. Without seeing a better photo I presume in this case, that the owner would, but for the deck, have been able to see from the front garden (without trespassing on the neighbour’s property) along the length of the wall to inspect whether termites had breached the barrier (although obviously a closer inspection would be better). The deck and plant pot now look like they prevent this inspection from being done in the future. The deck itself though has probably been treated to resist termites so, if constructed properly, is unlikely to be a problem for several years.

All neighbours have a vested interest in their neighbouring houses being regularly inspected and, where necessary, quickly treated. As a past neighbour of a house in Canberra that was gutted by termites it is not nice when you find them on your block too.

In response to an earlier post by someone, termites might not be a significant problem in Gungahlin yet but like other areas in Canberra this incidence will increase as construction (eg, timber framed houses and fences age) and more trees grow. Once established they will find it very easy to pass from one property to the next.

I’m not trying to inflame the situation but another concern that beejay76 might have is drainage. If the excavation under the deck or the deck itself drain towards the wall the ground around the foundations of the wall might be subject to too much moisture causing future structural problems. I’m sure that the neighbour will be equally upset if the beejay’s gutter starts leaking or overflowing onto his deck and causes damage.

I’d be very interested to know what ACTPLA has to say. I would have thought that the building regs and building code would prevent this type of construction activity.

KCL 11:22 am 28 Apr 11

Golden-Alpine said :

beejay76 said :

the_dodgy_neighbor said :

I am disappointed that it has had to come to this. However, here is the deck in question.

Oh, god, so am I! So you can see in the pic that it comes a little way into our block. Now it’s out there, I can state the whole problem. It’s not with you using the land per se. We don’t mind you having general use of that little bit of land as part of your garden and so on. Obviously we can’t use it, so that’s not the problem. Our problem is with that large wooden seating structure well above our termite barrier that increases risk etc as we discussed previously. We would like it off our land, which would then give us a nice little buffer between the wood and our nice, chewable house frame. Given that it’s on our land, and you didn’t ask our permission or even consult, we don’t think that’s particularly unreasonable.

beejay would you be happy then if the_dodgy_neighbor had the deck and boundry treated for termites each year and presented you with the receipt as proof? That should alleviate your one and only concern, the neighbour gets to keep his deck and we all get to move on.

*NICE ONE* – sounds like a win\win to me!

Special G 8:19 pm 27 Apr 11

For a termite problem to exist you’d probably need some trees and bushland initially for them to then wander into suburbia. Given trees are fairly scarse out in Gungahlin you should be safe.

What I can’t believe is that you would start a fight with your neighbour over this.

Try this – Hey nice deck want to grab a coffee on it sometime.

puggy 3:25 pm 27 Apr 11

Holden Caulfield said :

As I understand it all new dwellings have to have a degree of termite protection included with the slab during construction before the certifier will approve further works.

This assumes a level of honesty and competency not seen in the Canberra building industry since….well… a long time ago.

Holden Caulfield 3:02 pm 27 Apr 11

Golden-Alpine said :

beejay would you be happy then if the_dodgy_neighbor had the deck and boundry treated for termites each year and presented you with the receipt as proof? That should alleviate your one and only concern, the neighbour gets to keep his deck and we all get to move on.

Seems like a reasonable approach to me.

Although, I’d like to hear why it’s not unfounded paranoia about termites from beejay76 in the first place.

As I understand it all new dwellings have to have a degree of termite protection included with the slab during construction before the certifier will approve further works. Also, while not in the building trade, I can’t recall of ever hearing of a termite problem in Gungahlin (assuming this is where we are talking). And finally, as pointed out, what termite protection is there for the timber paling fence in the background?

I appreciate beejay76 probably didn’t want this issue to escalate the way it has, but am I missing something here?

Golden-Alpine 1:48 pm 27 Apr 11

beejay76 said :

the_dodgy_neighbor said :

I am disappointed that it has had to come to this. However, here is the deck in question.

Oh, god, so am I! So you can see in the pic that it comes a little way into our block. Now it’s out there, I can state the whole problem. It’s not with you using the land per se. We don’t mind you having general use of that little bit of land as part of your garden and so on. Obviously we can’t use it, so that’s not the problem. Our problem is with that large wooden seating structure well above our termite barrier that increases risk etc as we discussed previously. We would like it off our land, which would then give us a nice little buffer between the wood and our nice, chewable house frame. Given that it’s on our land, and you didn’t ask our permission or even consult, we don’t think that’s particularly unreasonable.

beejay would you be happy then if the_dodgy_neighbor had the deck and boundry treated for termites each year and presented you with the receipt as proof? That should alleviate your one and only concern, the neighbour gets to keep his deck and we all get to move on.

EvanJames said :

Wow. I’m guessing this is Gunghalin? It’s amazing that buildings can be built right up against the fence line like that, and using the brick wall of the house or garage as, effectively, a fence almost means that you can’t get access to the neighbour’s side of your wall.

Putting the deck there is actually quite a good use of the land, but what a bizarre situation. And how did The Dodgey Neighbour know about this discussion?

Wikileaks.

LSWCHP 10:54 am 27 Apr 11

EvanJames said :

Putting the deck there is actually quite a good use of the land, but what a bizarre situation. And how did The Dodgey Neighbour know about this discussion?

Hmmm…sounds like a breakdown in security to me. RiotAct discussion threads being leaked to the real world is not on. I’m sure Johnboy will have the RiotAct heavy squad on the case shortly. 🙂

EvanJames 9:33 am 27 Apr 11

Wow. I’m guessing this is Gunghalin? It’s amazing that buildings can be built right up against the fence line like that, and using the brick wall of the house or garage as, effectively, a fence almost means that you can’t get access to the neighbour’s side of your wall.

Putting the deck there is actually quite a good use of the land, but what a bizarre situation. And how did The Dodgey Neighbour know about this discussion?

shadow boxer 9:33 am 27 Apr 11

I have some sympathy for the OP here, while it may seem a pointless bit of land at first glance I think they leave it there to ensure a “seperation” between the house and the neighbouring block.

My in-laws has a similar one where they started attaching decorations to the blank wall only to have the owners come around and ask them to remove them as it interfered with the Feng Shui of their building.

Each to their own and you can’t just build on someones land no matter how harmless it looks.

wildturkeycanoe 8:22 am 27 Apr 11

Our backyard is almost identical to this, in that we can see the neighbor’s wall and termite barrier. Unfortunate that this occurs because it creates two problems.
1. The neighbor’s land becomes part of your backyard and you can’t do anything with it [Except maybe build a fence on the border, which would probably hit his guttering] This stops your neighbor’s access to the inspection site.
2. The neighbor can’t get to the termite barrier without asking your permission or he’ll be trespassing. An inconvenience if you don’t get along with them. Else they’ll have to hang over the edge of the roof and inspect from above.
Ah, boundary disputes are so good when developers create them out of a simple need to reduce costs by using a garage wall as a fence instead of building one out of “treated” hardwood. This shouldn’t happen under any circumstance unless the houses are classified as duplex – considering they are sharing a wall on the boundary line.
I feel for you beejay76, but I fear there might be little you can do about it.
Interestingly, how do you access this part of the your yard without going onto your neighbor’s land?

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