Most of the time, yes, but you will need a court order to do so.
We often assist landowners and builders who need to access neighbouring land, for a variety of reasons including construction and maintenance.
If you find yourself in this situation, the first step is to talk to your neighbour first. Not only is this a good idea, but a Court will not make an order for access unless you can demonstrate that you have taken reasonable steps to resolve the matter amicably with your neighbour.
Unfortunately, in our experience neighbours can often be incredibly resistant, even hostile to the idea of allowing you on their land to perform work. Often, neighbours do not understand the legal rights that may allow someone to access their land.
If this happens to you, you can make an application to the Court for an order granting access pursuant to the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 2000. Making an application to the Court should be a relatively straightforward process but its not, and you should consider engaging a competent lawyer to assist you with the process.
Who pays? The costs of an application for an access order are usually payable by the applicant.
However, in determining whether all of the costs of an access order are payable, the Court can take into account any matter it thinks fit including the conduct of the parties leading to the application and any attempts by the parties to reach agreement before the proceedings and whether the refusal to consent to access was unreasonable in the circumstances.
Do you need to pay compensation? If, in accessing the land you cause loss, damage or injury, yes. Compensation is not payable for loss of privacy or inconvenience but the Court can order that a person to whom an access order is granted pay compensation for things like damage to personal property, financial loss and personal injury arising from the access.
For more information about access orders or to speak with out Environmental and Planning Law team please contact Associate Mark Evans on +61 2 4221 9311.