Do we have to pay for half on a fence that our neighbor’s dogs destroyed, especially if they will not give us any information regarding the cost?

Our neighbor’s 2 St. Bernard dogs broke through out fence twice and the second time ran through our house. We complained and now they are replacing the fence. They gave us a letter at 6 pm saying the fence will be replaced the next day and they will send us half the bill later. I tried asking for the estimate, quote or bid but they said don’t worry we got the lowest bid. They weren’t very cooperative when I told them we needed to be included on the cost situation. Do we still need to pay half even though they weren’t cooperative on both occasion when we tried to talk reasonably with them?

Asked on March 7, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Generally, when one party is responsible for the destruction of property, through either negligence (or unreasonable carelessness) or an intentional bad act, that party is liable for all the costs to repair  or replace. If your neighbor's dogs broke the fence, then it would seem that your neighbor would be wholly liable, especially since this was the second occasion--that is, the neighbor had warning or notice that the dogs did this, and so would be negligent in not taking steps to deter or restrain the dogs. (E.g. an "invisible fence" inside the actual fence; keeping them tied up, inside the house, or in a dog run; etc.)

Of course, if your neighbor disagrees, you'd have to sue to resolve the issue, which could cost more--in terms of time, money, effort and damaged relationships--than its worth.


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