If a fence sits on a shared property line and needs to be repaired, generally the cost should be shared between the neighbours on whose property line the fence sits.
However, if the damage is exclusively caused by one neighbour, that neighbour might be liable to pay for the damage under the law of nuisance. A nuisance occurs when there is unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of your property. The interference:
- Must be both substantial and unreasonable. If the interference causes physical damage (say, to a fence), this is usually enough for it to be “unreasonable.”
- Can be intentional, negligent or non-faulty conduct. That said, where the neighbour didn't actively create the nuisance, they won't be found liable unless they knew or ought to have known of the facts constituting the nuisance.
Here is an example of how the law of nuisance has been applied to a damaged fence caused by a neighbour.
To deal with the problem, see our page on fences and neighbours, under the section "Work out problems." There, we explain practical steps to take and your options should you wish to pursue legal action.