Neighbours took us to court over fence that's inches inside their property – we're being forced to sell up to pay fees | The Sun

A COUPLE face having to sell their home to pay $163,000 worth of legal fees after neighbours took them to court over a fence.

Jay Hall and his wife Kirsty, built their home in Sydney's northwest in 2018 and believed they were "on good terms" with their neighbours – before the fence fallout.

The pair say their neighbours initially gave them permission to build the wall between their homes.

The plans for the wall were also approved by Hills Shire Council and building work went ahead.

But in 2020, the development application showed that the Hall's fence had breached their neighbours' property boundary by two inches.

The neighbours, The Flyaks family, had a survey done which found that the wall needed to be completely within Jay and Kirsty's property and not encroaching onto their land.

Jay explained to A Current Affair: "The fence initially was constructed with a retaining wall attached to a metre high.

"And that retaining wall essentially was on a verbal agreement with the neighbours, we were on good terms at that point."

To the couple's shock, the council withdrew the final occupation certificate and ordered them to move their fence back.

After the fence had been rebuilt and edged back onto the couple's property in 2021, the council confirmed that no additional work was necessary. 

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Kirsty explained how she thought they were out of the woods and said: "I had this relief and thought, "OK, it's finally over and we don't have to ever worry about this again".

But the story didn't end there as their neighbours ended up taking them to the Land and Environment Court.

The Flyaks were unsatisfied with the changes ordered by the council and thought the fence "wasn't constructed correctly".

They also claimed that they had never given permission for the wall to be built in the first place and in May this year, the Hall family received a letter from their lawyer.

The letter said a judgment had been handed down in their client's favour and that the Halls' fence had been built in breach of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. 

The couple were ordered to remove the wall and fence and replace it with a "structurally sound" timber retaining wall and fence.

They were also told to "install adequate draining measures".

Not only will they now need to pay for the construction of a new fence, but the Halls also have to pay the cost of legal proceedings which amounted to $163,424. 

Jay said: "It's a fence like $163,000 for a fence is ridiculous."

"Council's at fault, 100 per cent. We're relying on them to be our certifier, we pay the fees."

Kirsty added: "We essentially have to sell our house to pay for those court fees and that's really the devastating part because we built this house for ourselves."

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The council said they had no reason to believe Mr Hall did not comply with the approved plans.

They added that as they were communicating with one of the parties they could not comment further but had offered the Halls $10,000 to help them to rebuild the fence.

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