Depending on the type of fence you are building, you may need a building permit.
- A front fence can be constructed out of timber or wood to a height of 1.5 metres, or out of masonary (or a steel/timber/masonary combination) to a height of 1.2 metres without a Building Permit.
- A side fence fence can be constructed up to 2 metres in height without a Building Permit. Construction within the first 3 metres of your front property boundary must be limited to 1.5 metres, however.
Front fence on a corner allotment
- A front fence on a corner allotment can be constructed to 1 metre in height without a Building Permit.
Merri-bek's Fencing Guideline.PDF provides a handy overview. Alternatively, the Building Regulations 2018 will provide more detailed information around the kind of fences that can be built and if a building permit is needed for them.
Below you can find information about building different types of fences, and who is responsible for them.
Property owners are responsible for any fences on their property that face a road reserve.
This means that if one of these fences needs to be replaced, or needs any work done to it, the property owner is responsible for the cost and organisation of this.
A road reserve includes streets, roads, laneways or rights-of-way. Council does not share the cost of maintaining these fences.
If the back or side of your property shares a fence with land or a building owned by us, we will share any fence costs with you.
If you do share a fence with us and it needs to be repaired or replaced, you should get 2 to 3 quotes for whatever work the fence needs. The quotes should include:
- the cost per metre of a treated pine paling fence
- the cost of removing the old fence
- the GST amount
Once you have the quotes you should email them to Building Maintenance or mail them to Merri-bek City Council, Locked Bag 10, Coburg 3058, attention Building Maintenance.
Fences between two properties are the responsibility of both property owners. This is because the properties share the fence. Legally, if you share a common boundary with someone else, you both need to pay to build and maintain the fence.
The property owners need to share the cost of a standard fence.
See the Law Handbook for more information on boundary fences.
If you and your neighbour don’t agree on how to replace or repair a boundary fence, Council cannot help you resolve this as it is a civil matter. If this is an issue you need help with, you can contact:
- the Magistrates Court, which can give you some general information about fencing disagreements and making a complaint.
More information can be found here
- the Disputes Centre of Victoria, which is provides dispute resolution services at a low cost. The Centre can also offer free mediation between you and your neighbour, give you information about a Fencing Notice, and show you how to get an order for your neighbour to pay for the fence.
More information on lodging a fence dispute can be found here.
If you want to speak to a neighbour or another property owner about a shared fence, you can contact us to get their details. We can provide you with these details under the Information Privacy Act, if you ask for them in a letter or an email. You can ask for these details by filling in the following form:
- Request for Address Particulars for Fencing Purposes form (PDF 193Kb)
- Request for Address Particulars for Fencing Purposes form (DOC 2Mb)
The information we give you must only be used to speak to the property owner about the fence and related issues.
- the Magistrates Court, which can give you some general information about fencing disagreements and making a complaint.
Swimming pools and spas
If you decide to build a swimming pool or a spa, then it is important that you follow strict safety requirements set out in the Building Regulations 2018. Children under the age of 5 are at highest risk of both fatal and non-fatal drownings in Victoria. On average 4 children die from drowning each year. We can prevent this by making our pools and spas safe.
Safety requirements that pool or spa owners need to follow include:
- making sure any fence, gate or barrier around the pool or spa is working well
- making sure any gates or doors that are used to enter the pool or spa stay closed except when someone is entering the pool or spa.
Owners of properties with pools or spas are responsible for the fence or gate. However, if you rent a house with a pool or spa, you can contact your landlord or real estate agent if you think the fence or gate needs to be repaired.
The State Government introduced new laws on 1 December 2019 to improve safety around pools and spas in Victoria. The new laws require:
- one-off registration of all household pools and spas with Council;
- regular inspection of pool and spa safety barriers (by Council or a registered pool inspector); and
- submission of pool and spa barrier compliance certificates to Council following an inspection.
Click on the steps below to find out more about this process.
You must register all pools and spas with us. This includes:
- all pools and spas that can hold more than 30cm of water
- all permanent pools and spas (such as above ground pools, indoor pools, inground pools/spas and hot tubs), and all temporary pools and spas (such as wading pools, relocatable pools, inflatable pools and hot tubs/spas).
If you don’t register your pool or spa, you may be given an infringement notice or face legal action.
There is a fee to register your pool or spa. You should attach any building permits relating to the pool/spa to your registration application. You should also attach your final inspection or occupancy permit if you have one. You must register your pool or spa within 30 days of you getting an occupancy permit/final inspection.
Once you have registered, we will send you an email which will tell you what date you need to submit a certificate of compliance by. Find out more about this certificate in the next step.
Anyone who registers a pool or spa must have its barriers inspected by a registered Building Surveyor or Building Inspector. If your safety barrier correctly meets all the safety rules, you will be given a certificate of barrier compliance. If your safety barrier does not currently meet the safety rules, then what happens next depends how serious the problems are.
The Victorian Government has identified a small group of problems that are serious safety issues. These include:
- If part of your pool barrier is less than 1 metre high; or
- If you have a pool gate that can't be made to close and latch securely.
If your barrier has these problems then you should not wait for an inspection. These problems are dangerous. You should get them fixed straight away. If an inspector finds these problems you must be given a certificate of non compliance.
Minor pool safety issues
Most pool barriers only have minor issues. If your pool barrier only has minor issues your pool inspector will give you a report explaining any work that needs to be done to make the pool or spa safe. This work is the responsibility of you as the owner. By law the pool inspector can only give you 60 days to fix these issues.
Compliance certificate due dates
Compliance certificates must be lodged by different dates, depending on when the pool or spa was built.
Swimming pool/spa construction date and compliance certificate deadline date:
- On or before 30 June 1994 or no building permit – 1 June 2022
- Between 1 July 1994 to 30 April 2010 – 1 June 2023
- Between 1 May 2010 to 31 October 2020 – 1 June 2024
- After 1 October 2020 - When registering your pool which must be done within 30 days of receiving you final inspection or occupancy certificate.
Councils pool inspection service
Council now offers a pool inspection service for a fee.
Before booking your pool inspection with Council make sure your pool is registered. You should also check that your pool barrier is safe and you might want do any repairs before booking an inspection. If any inspector (Council or private) inspects the pool and finds serious safety concerns they must immediately issue a pool non compliance certificate which also involves a fine. You can avoid this by making sure your pool meets basic safety standards.
What happens next?
After we receive your online booking request we will contact you within 7 days to confirm the date and time of the inspection. In busy times there can be a significant wait so please book early.
After the inspection
If your barrier is found to be compliant, a Certificate of Barrier Compliance will be issued. As you have booked your service through Council that's all you need to do. Council will upload the certificate to the pool register as part of the service.
If your barrier is found to be non-compliant with minor issues, a report will be provided outlining what needs to be fixed and by when. Your pool/spa will then need to be reinspected before a Certificate of Barrier Compliance can be issued.
If your barrier is found to be non-compliant with major issues, a Certificate of Barrier Non-Compliance will be issued. You will need to pay the associated fee (around $400). Your barrier will then need to be made compliant and reinspected.
Please note that issuing and lodging a Certificate of Barrier Compliance or Non-Compliance is a legislative requirement, and applies regardless of whether your pool/spa inspection was carried out by a private inspector/surveyor, or by Council.
You must give us a copy of the Certificate of Compliance by the date listed in your registration confirmation email and within 30 days of the certificate being issued. Costs related to lodging your Certificate of Compliance with us are as follows:
- $21.10 to lodge a Certificate of Compliance
- $397.50 to lodge a Certificate of Non-Compliance – this cost is because of the work we will need to do to make sure your barrier/gate is safe.
You must make sure that your pool or spa is inspected every 4 years.
For further information and a checklist relating to barrier safety, see the Victorian Building Authority’s website.
You must have safety barriers in place around your pool or spa. You can check if your pool or spa barriers are compliant using the Victorian Building Authority’s 3 self-assessment checklists.
Our Building Services Unit has developed some Frequently Asked Questions responding to common questions raised about the new legislation.
Rooming and boarding houses
What is a rooming or boarding house?
Rooming houses, sometimes referred to as boarding houses, are a type of accommodation where one or more rooms is available for rent. In rooming houses the total number of people who may live in those rooms is 4 or more.
Also, in most rooming houses:
- the people who live there share bathrooms, kitchens, laundries and other common areas
- the owner and their family generally do not live on the premises
- separate rental agreements may exist for the people who live there
Rooming houses must follow the:
- Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008
- Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2009
- Building Regulations 2018
- Building Act 1993
- Building Code of Australia (BCA)
- Planning and Environment Act, and
- Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
Starting a rooming house
If you wish to start a rooming house, you must first meet Council’s building, planning and environmental health requirements. Click the drop-down menu below to learn more.
The Merri-bek Planning Scheme defines a rooming house as ‘accommodation’. However, it does not define it as ‘shared housing’. See our planning permits section for more information on what you will need.
Under the Building Code of Australia, a rooming house is either a Class 1B building (boarding house) or a Class 3 building (residential building).
A Class 1B building has no more than 12 people staying in it. A Class 3 building is any other building where people rent rooms either for the short or long term.
If you want to turn a building into a Class 1B or Class 3 building, you must get a building permit from a registered building surveyor.
The owner of a rooming house must also have an occupancy permit.
A rooming house must meet health requirements set out by the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 and the Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2009. These requirements include:
- rooming houses must be registered with Council if they rent out rooms to 4 or more people
- they must have at least 1 toilet for every 10 people in the building
- they must have at least 1 fixed bath or shower and washbasin for every 10 people in the building
- they must have a good and uninterrupted supply of hot and cold water to all bathing, laundry and kitchen facilities
- they must have working smoke alarms fitted throughout the building
- the rooms and shared areas must be cleaned and well looked after
- there must be set minimum room sizes
- rooms must be safe and stable, contain lighting, have windows and a door, and have floor coverings that are free of major rips and raised edges and stay in place
To be registered, the building must meet health regulations and building and planning requirements. This includes having the right permits. After your building is registered as a rooming house, we will inspect it every year.
See personal care and accomodation businesses for more information.
For more information about the requirements for rooming houses and owners, see Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Registered Accommodation Association of Victoria (RAAV). For rooming house tenants, see Tenants Union of Victoria.
Commercial and industrial building safety requirements
Whoever owns a building is responsible for any maintenance or renovations that the building needs. This means that if you are the owner, you have to check and look after the building's safety measures and features. By doing this you can make sure people in your building, people in neighbouring buildings and people on the street stay safe if there is an emergency.
Essential safety measures and features
- air-conditioning system
- early warning system
- emergency lifts and lighting
- emergency lighting
- emergency power supply
- emergency warning system
- exit doors
- exit signs
- fire control centre
- fire curtains and doors
- fire detectors and alarm system
- fire extinguishers
- fire hydrants
- fire isolated stairs
- fire rated materials
- fire windows
- mechanical ventilation
- passage ramps
- path of travel to exits
- smoke alarms
- smoke control systems, and
- sprinkler systems.
The VBA provides essential safety measures information and explains how and when to maintain essential safety measures.
Building safety inspections
We will regularly inspect buildings to make sure they are safe. If your safety systems do not meet legal safety standards, you could be fined. Fines are up to $10,000 for individuals and $50,000 for companies.
Complaints about building work
Only some complaints about building work can be made to Council, while the others need to be made to the VBA.
What you can report to us
We will investigate complaints relating to:
- buildings which do not have the required permits
- a building being used for something that its not legally allowed to be used for
- dangerous buildings or structures including ones that have been damaged by fire or are unsafe
- buildings with swimming pool barriers that do not meet safety standards
- building that do not have safety measures such as exit doors, fire safety equipment, smoke alarms, exit and fire doors, and
- the demolition of a building without the required permit in place.
We will investigate a complaint if the building or planning permit was issued by us, or if there is no permit. For buildings where the permit was issued by a building surveyor, that building surveyor will need to handle the complaint. We will only get involved with these complaints if there is a danger to the public.
You can make a complaint to Council using the following form:
- Building Services Complaint Registration form (PDF 224Kb)
- Building Services Complaint Registration form (DOC 476Kb)
We will let you know about the outcome of your complaint.
Domestic building contract disputes
The Victorian Government has established the Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV). This service is free, and will help to resolve any disagreements or disputes related to building. Building owners, builders, architects and sub-contractors may contact the DBDRV regarding defective or incomplete building work, delays to building work, issues with payment and other matters arising from a domestic building contact.
For more information regarding the DBDRV and their services, visit the DBDRV website.