Rural Residential Properties

Living on a rural residential property means your nearest neighbour may be some distance from you. However, your activities can still impact on them. How you manage vegetation, water, waste, fire, domestic animals, livestock, vehicles and machinery, fencing, and noise will all impact on your neighbours and the relationship you have with them. Being a good neighbour is more than saying hello to the person living next to you, it requires regular communication and consideration of their lifestyle. Forming good relationships with neighbours can also assist with property management. For example, co-operating with neighbours to control weed species across a number of properties will be far more effective than working alone. You could organise several of your neighbours together in a Landcare group to work at tackling broader land management issues.

Noise and Neighbours

Many of the disputes between neighbours relate to noise. Disruptive noise can come from a range of sources, such as loud music, motorbikes, noisy machines and vehicles (including loud exhausts, brakes or sound systems), barking dogs or other animal noises, lawn mowers, pool or dam pumps, and intruder alarms. Excessive noise is considered pollution, and there are laws that outline what is acceptable and when. Your Local Council is the main enforcing body for these laws.

Remember to consider your neighbours during property planning. Minimise the noise of barking dogs or other animal noise by situating kennels and animal enclosures away from your neighbours’ homes or property boundaries. Be aware of how much your dog is barking, and how such barking could impact on your neighbours. The problem of dog barking can be prevented by exercising your dog regularly or blocking its view from provocative sources such as passing people, cars or other dogs. Proper maintenance of machinery and motor vehicles will reduce the noise they produce, and you can change the way you operate machinery when close to neighbours.  

Boundary Fencing and Trees

Another common cause of disputes between neighbours is boundary fencing and trees.  Keep in mind that your neighbours or yourself may have decided to live on a rural residential property to enjoy the scenic rural landscape. Select a fence design which is in character with the landscape and does not block views.  Tree plantings (and clearing) should also consider long term impacts on views, native vegetation, and potential damage to buildings, driveways and pathways. Alternatives to fencing and large trees are also available, such as a native vegetation hedge, which are cheaper than erecting fences, provide a buffer against noise and dust, and create privacy and habitat for wildlife.


Preparing for Bushfires

Local Council
Local Community or Residents Association
Local Rural Suppliers
Community Justice Centre

Composting and Other Waste Disposal

Composting is an effective way of reducing the amount of organic waste on your rural residential property and creates highly fertile organic matter for your gardens.  Because of the potential for smells however, situate your compost bin or site away from neighbouring homes and property boundaries, and manage compost areas so the site does not attract vermin.  This principle also applies to animal wastes. Ensure that dead livestock are disposed of off-site or buried.  One of your neighbours may know of someone who offers this service, or they could have a tractor and can help you with burial of the animal. Alternatively contact your Veterinarian, Local Council, or rural supplier for advice.

Dust and Rural Roads

Rural roads are very different to urban roads.  Unsealed roads and roadside verges can be slippery in all weather conditions, and produce a lot of dust when dry.  Drive to the road and weather conditions, for your safety and the safety of others.  Slowing down allows you to better anticipate livestock, wildlife, farm and other heavy vehicles that may be on the road.  Be mindful that neighbours at the start of your street will get the dust from every single vehicle—driving a little slower will help to reduce the dust you produce.

Disputes with Neighbours

In general, the best way to resolve disputes with neighbours is by talking to each other and trying to reach a solution satisfactory to you both.  You could be neighbours for some time and it is in both your interests to be on good terms.  If you are unable to resolve differences with your neighbour, try talking to a community mediation service.  Taking a neighbour to court should be a last resort, is expensive, and may not result in a suitable outcome for either party.  If you are unsure of your rights, contact your local Community Justice Centre or Community Legal Centre.


Copyright 2011 HCCREMS