The answer to this depends on where exactly the fence is located. There are three general cases:
1. The fence is in your yard
This case is clear-cut. If the fence runs entirely within your property it is yours, no matter who paid for it. Your neighbour can not legally take it down.
2. The fence in the neighbour’s yard.
Again, this is relatively simple. If the fence is entirely in the neighbour’s yard she can do whatever she sees fit with it. Your neighbour can take it down.
3. The fence runs along the property line
The answer here is “No”. Your neighbour cannot take down a “line fence” without your consent. If it runs down the property line it legally belongs to both of you.
The Ontario Line Fences Act provides a dispute resolution mechanism for owners of adjoining properties. You can read more about it here. It applies when a fence already exists and one owner believes it needs to be reconstructed or repaired. The owner can ask the municipality to assign “fence-viewers” to inspect the situation and issue a decision. Three fence-viewers are required to be present at a viewing, and they have the authority to divide the responsibility for the work between the neighbours. They can also describe the fence that is to be reconstructed if that is an issue as well.
If action has been taken
Neighbourhood spats have a way of getting out of hand. If your neighbour goes ahead and takes down a fence that belongs to you, you can seek redress in small claims court. You can find more information about it here. In Ontario, the court covers damages of up to $35,000. You don’t need a lawyer, but it’s definitely a good idea to consult with one before filing your claim. He might even have other ideas about how to resolve the dispute. Sometimes a demand letter is all that’s needed to get the damages you believe you’re owed.
If you have more questions about fences or other issues we’re happy to answer them. Call 613-736-1122 or hit the chat button on the right during business hours.