What are my neighbor’s obligations regarding damages that their dogs have made to our mutual privacy fence?

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What are my neighbor’s obligations regarding damages that their dogs have made to our mutual privacy fence?

We are in the process of buying a house. There is a wooden privacy fence that fences in the entire backyard. My neighbor has 2 pit bulls who ram their heads into the fence, breaking the bottom of the boards. Also, they dig holes under the fence. We wanted to know if they are responsible for the damages and should pay for at least half, if not the whole, cost of redoing that side of the fence?

Asked on October 17, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

While you call it a "mutual" privacy fence, it will belong to one or the other of you all property including fences belongs to someone. If it's your fence and their dogs have done damage, you can get from them the entire cost to repair--you'd have to sue if they won't pay voluntarily and may be willing to accept less than 100% to avoid a lawsuit, but would be well positioned to recover the full cost of damage to your property done by their dogs. But if the fence belongs to them, you have no right to make them pay for its repair or compel them to repair it they have the right to let their own property fall into disrepair.


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