Neighbours, the Law and You is an easy-to-understand guide designed specifically for the public. It explains the laws on common neighbourhood issues such as animals, noise, fences and trees.
The new, fully-updated edition covers how to deal with everyday legal problems with neighbours.
You can find more information about other issues that may arise in neighbourhoods below.
Laws For Animal Owners
There are a number of laws in place to ensure that an animal's health and safety is maintained while they in the care of humans.
You can find more about these laws in Local Law No.2.
For more information about Animal laws and responsible animal ownership visit the Pets and Animals section of this website.
Barbeques on Residential Properties
The following conditions apply when using a barbeque on a residential property.
- Burning rubbish is strictly prohibited
- Excessive smoke or offensive smoke is not to be created
- Only gas or electric barbeques permitted on total fire ban days
- BBQ must be more than 1 metre from side or rear boundary, or more than three metrers from the front of the land that the barbeque is on
Barbeques and fire danger periods
During fire danger period and total fire ban days there are restrictions on the use of barbeques.
For more information visit the fire danger period and total fire ban days section of the CFA website.
Burning Off is generally not permitted due the negative environmental and amenity impacts. Refuse and waste is to be disposed of by means other than burning.
In the extremely rare circumstances, where no other means are available, a burning off permit may be considered.
Please note: A permit will not be issued during a declared fire danger period.
Applying for a local law permit
Before lodging a permit application, you are encouraged to contact Council to discuss your situation with a Fire Prevention Officer. The site must be inspected by them and they will make the decision on whether a permit will be issued.
To apply for a permit to burn off complete an application for a local law permit form.
Fees apply and must be paid at time of application. See Local Law Fees for current permit costs.
Fencing between neighbours
The cost of the fence is divided equally between the adjoining neighbours according to the Victorian Fencing Act 1968.
Request for adjoining property owner details for fencing purposes
Property owners and fencing contractors can request the details of owners of adjoining properties for fencing purposed only.
To apply complete the request for adjoining property owner details for fencing purposes application form and return to a Council customer service centre.
Please note that the adjoining owner requesting the information must also provide proof (eg driver's licence) that they are an adjoining owner.
If one neighbour requests a non-standard fence, the cost difference should be borne by the person requesting the non-standard fence. Council does not have jurisdiction to mediate between neighbours to resolve disputes or to communicate your request to your neighbour.
You may seek advice regarding disputes with fencing matters to:
- Department of Justice Dispute Settlement Centre - Phone: 1300 372 888
Half cost fencing (between resident's and council's land)
Council will contribute half of the cost of the construction and replacement of a standard fence abutting Council owned properties (recreation reserves, parks, and other buildings).
The City of Greater Dandenong encourages regular maintenance of properties to minimise the risk of fire and enhance the safety and general wellbeing of our community
Why are well maintained properties important?
The risk of fires starting and/or spreading to neighbouring properties is significantly reduced when properties, whether residential or commercial/industrial, are well maintained. This in turn means more protection for property, animals and of course, human beings.
What is a fire hazard?
A fire hazard can be anything that might contribute or cause a fire, including:
- long or dry grass
- dry branches, leaves and other vegetation
- poorly maintained wood piles
- incorrectly stored gas and chemical containers
- general rubbish
Fire hazards and the law
The State government has laws that require property owners and occupiers to remove fire hazards and maintain their properties.
Council officers conduct inspections in November and December each year. If a property is found to be hazardous a fire prevention notice will be issued giving the property owners or occupier 14 days to clear the property.
If not cleared by that time, Council may arrange for work to be done and charge the owner accordingly.
Tips for preventing fire hazards on your property
- In October/November (before summer) inspect your property and remove or control all fire hazards
- Regularly maintain gardens and lawns to keep grass height at no more than 100mm. If you need the grass for stock feed, you should at least cut 20m wide fire breaks along all your boundaries.
- Remove and recycle all dead foliage and undergrowth from gardens and outdoor areas
- If you want to store gases, chemicals or other flammable liquids on your property, make sure that you obtain and comply with the relevant safety data sheet from your supplier
- Store building materials and fire wood in a neat and tidy manner, preferably in your back yard, not stacked against building walls
- Any other flammable materials should be stored in sheds or other suitable receptacles
- If you are a landlord, remember you are jointly responsible with your tenant/s to ensure that rented properties are also maintained
Noise can be defined as ‘unwanted sound’. What may be pleasurable sound to one person can be noise to another. Over time, noise can cause significant impacts on health and wellbeing, especially when it disturbs sleep.
The Environment Protection (Residential Noise) Regulations 2018 lists specific types of equipment and their prohibited times. Noise is automatically unreasonable if audible inside a neighbouring residence during the prohibited times. Any residential noise can still be considered unreasonable outside the prohibited times.
Allowable days and times for residential noise
Monday to Friday: 7am-8pm
Weekends and public holidays: 9am-8pm
- Motor vehicles (except a vehicle entering or leaving premises)
- Equipment or appliance with an internal combustion engine
- Electric power tool, chain or circular saw
- Gas or air compressor
- Pneumatic power tool, hammer or other impacting tool
- Grinding equipment
Monday to Friday: 7am-11pm
Weekends and public holidays: 9am-11pm
- Domestic air conditioner
- Swimming pool or spa pump
- Domestic heating equipment (including central heating and hot water systems)
Monday to Thursday: 7am-10pm
Saturday and public holidays: 9am-11pm
- Musical instruments
- Electrical amplified sound reproducing equipment (including stereogram, radio, television or public address system)
What to do about noisy neighbours
Often people don’t realise that what they’re doing is actually bothering anyone else and after being informed of the situation will happily stop the noise. If you have noise concerns, visit the person to let them know that the noise is annoying you or drop drop a friendly note into their mailbox.
When approaching your neighbour be sure to do so in a relaxed and calm manner using a friendly tone of voice. Just remember that you might be doing something that annoys others, so think about how you’d like to be informed about it.
Also, remember that noise can seem worse under certain circumstances, i.e. other stresses that you or your neighbour might have. Medical problems can also be exacerbated by excessive noise.
If the noise cannot be completely stopped, try negotiating a suitable time with your neighbour when it won’t annoy you, and come to a common agreement that satisfies both of you.
What if my neighbour doesn’t stop being noisy?
If the noise continues after you have notified the person that it is annoying you, the next step is to keep a diary of when the noise occurs, for how long and how often. This can provide good evidence when you make a formal complaint to a higher authority.
If you are unable to resolve the matter yourself consider contacting:
- Telephone the EPA on 1300 372 842 or visit the EPA's Noise page for more information
- Contact Council on 8571 1000
- Contact Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria on 1300 372 888
Only in extreme circumstances should you call the police.
What if I’m going to have a party?
If you’re planning a party, chat with your neighbours or organise a letterbox drop to avoid any complaints about your party.
Noxious Weeds on Private Property
A noxious weed is a plant species that has been designated by a country, state, provincial, or national agricultural authority as one that is invasive to agricultural and/or horticultural crops, natural habitats and ecosystems, and/or humans or livestock.
Noxious weeds on properties
If a property is found to have noxious weeds growing, Council can issue a notice to the property owner to have the weeds removed.
If the weeds have not been removed within one month, Council has the option to undertake the work at the cost of the owner.
Disposal of noxious weeds
Noxious weeds can be placed in your garden waste bin. Garden waste undergoes a pasteurisation process, where it is heated to high temperatures which ensures the seeds can not germinate.
Noxious and declared weeds can also be placed in the garbage waste bin, but put them in a plastic bag and tie the top, to ensure they are not spread further once they get to landfill.
The City of Greater Dandenong encourages the maintenance of properties within the municipality, to enhance the amenity and general wellbeing of our community.
Why are well-maintained properties important?
Well-maintained properties, whether private or commercial/industrial, add greatly to the beauty and amenity of our municipality. Those that are poorly maintained however lead to perceptions that an area is unsafe, untidy and poorly cared for. This in turn can lead to increased levels of graffiti, vandalism and other anti-social behaviour.
In a commercial and industrial environment they can also have a detrimental impact on business, because potential customers associate poor housekeeping practice with poor business practice.
What is an ‘unsightly’ property?
- An unsightly premise is one that is untidy, dirty and not maintained. An unsightly property can mean:
- grass on lawns and nature strips too long and the gardens need attention
- dumped rubbish visible to the public
- visible storage of materials like timber, car parts, building products
- appearance of the premise is in need maintainance work.
Unsightly premises and the law
The owner and/or occupier of land must not allow their property to become unsightly, overgrown or dangerous. Nature strips must be regularly maintained by the property residents.
Buildings that are found to be unsightly will be issued with a compliance notice from Council. The notice will allow up to 21 days for improvements to be made.
If no improvements have been made, Council has the options to organise for maintenance to be carried out at the cost of the owner.
Tips for maintaining your property
- Regularly maintain gardens and lawns, to ensure a consistent appearance with your neighbours.
- If you want to store machinery or vehicles on your property, make sure that you contact us first, you may require a permit.
- Store building materials in a neat and tidy manner, preferably in your back yard or otherwise screened from public view.
- Any other materials should be stored in sheds or other suitable receptacles. If you are a landlord, remember you are jointly responsible with your tenant/s to ensure that rented properties are also maintained.
- Nature strips - property owners/tenants are encouraged to maintain their nature strips throughout the year.
Naturestrip maintenance in Somerfield Estate, Keysborough South
As part of the subdivision guidelines, the developer responsible for subdivision of land must landscape in accordance with Council approved plans. This includes parks, gardens, trees and naturestrips.
In most cases the developer is responsible for such maintenance for the first three years of the site.
Residents within the Somerfield Estate in Keysborough South can refer to the website which provides general information relating to this subdivision. For more information about Levies, visit the Rates Levies page.