Our fence on the property line has been damaged by our neighbour. Are they responsible for the damages?

There is now two feet of dirt up the bottom of the fence, along the length of the fence.

Kai

Kai

Richmond, BC

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 the law of nuisance being applied to make a neighbour pay for a damaged fence.

To deal with the problem, see our page on fences and neighbours, in the section on "work out problems." There, we explain practical steps to take and your options should you wish to pursue legal action.

People's team

People's team

People's Law School
  • Reviewed in March 2021
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada

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