Neighbours and the law

Neighbours and the law

Cover image of Neighbours and the law, graphic image of people and houses

by Nadine Behan
2nd edition, published by the Legal Information Access Centre (LIAC), State Library of New South Wales, 2017

An easy to understand guide to the different areas of law that are involved in neighbourhood issues and disputes. Covers areas that commonly cause problems between neighbours including: dividing fences, retaining walls, overhanging branches, animals and noise.

The State Library of NSW acknowledges the contribution of The Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History which made the publication of this book possible.

Copies of this book are also freely available in the Find Legal Answers Tool Kit at your local public library.

The book can be purchased from the Library Shop.

Online updates

Chapter 8 Trees and plants and Chapter 9 Noise, smells, smoke and garbage were updated in October 2019 to reflect changes to the law.


Chapter one


Disputes between neighbours have become one of the most common forms of dispute. Although we generally can’t choose our neighbours it is in our best interests to try to get along, and when a problem arises, to do what we can to find a solution. After all, everyone benefits from having harmony in their neighbourhood.

Chapter two

Disputes and how to resolve them

Mediation - Community Justice Centres - legal action - legal help.

Chapter three

Property rights and neighbours

Ownership - freehold - strata title - community title - company title - caveats - co-ownership - leasehold - tenancy - residential parks - licence - boarding houses - retirement villages - NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). 

Chapter four

Entry, access and privacy

Trespass - nuisance - negligence - entry for fencing work - access orders - Access to Neighbouring Land Act 2000 - easements - rights of way - privacy - CCTV and neighbours. 

Chapter five


Boundary disputes - encroaching buildings - adverse possession.


Neighbours and the law by Nadine Behan. Published by the Legal Information Access Centre (LIAC), State Library of New South Wales.

The laws contained here are those that apply in New South Wales as at 1 January 2017. While every effort has been made to ensure the information is up-to-date and accurate, it is not a substitute for legal advice. Use this book as a guide only and wherever possible get legal advice for your particular problem.

© Library Council of New South Wales, 2017. Material contained herein may be copied for the non-commercial purpose of study or research subject to the provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).