What to do if my neighbor has a grazing agreement with a man placed 60 cows on the property but they broke through the fence to my property and now he won’t repair the fence?

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What to do if my neighbor has a grazing agreement with a man placed 60 cows on the property but they broke through the fence to my property and now he won’t repair the fence?

He moved the cattle off but insists we are responsible for the repairs on half the fence. We have no livestock.

Asked on August 1, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Montana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Whose fence is it? If it is his fence, he does not have to repair it if he chooses not to, or he can say that he'll only fix it if you pick up half the cost; since it is his property, he can decide what to do with it.

If it is your fence, you can hold the person(s) who were at fault in causing the damage liable for the cost of repairs. That may be your neighbor, if it was negligent or careless (as it may well have been) to lease his land for grazing if his land was not itself fully fenced and he was relying on someone else's fence; and it may be (instead or in addition; more than one person can be liable) the lessee who owned the cows, for not properly controlling them. Unfortunately, if neither person will voluntarily pay, you would have to sue them and show their fault in court to recover compensation. Since suing has it's own costs and is never 100% guaranteed, sometimes it is worth accepting a lesser amount of money to avoid having to sue.

The critical issue in determining your rights is whose fence it is.


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