Ontario neighbours locked in nasty dispute over who should pay for new fence
TORONTO -- Two Ontario neighbours are locked in a bitter dispute that is now heading to court over who should pay for a new fence that runs between their properties.
In Brampton, Ont., one neighbour decided to tear down his fence and build a new one and claimed his neighbours agreed to pay half the cost, but when they refused the man decided to sue them and take them to small claims court.
"We didn't agree with this being done and it's a problem," said Michele Eilander, who added she and her husband moved into their Brampton home four years ago and weren't in a position to pay for a new fence.
Eilander said their neighbour had mentioned over the years he wanted to build a new fence between their two properties, but Eilander said at no time did they agree to it.
"The neighbour mentioned he wanted to build a fence at some point and we said we aren't taking on any projects and that was our situation, but unfortunately he just went through with it," said Eilander.
Eilander said they were fine with the existing older fence and didn't want to spend the money, but were willing to make repairs and improvements to it.
Last summer, they were shocked when the neighbour went ahead and started building a new fence.
"I was so surprised because it was so bold, there was really nothing you could do. They just tore it down and started building," said Eilander.
CTV News Toronto reached out to the neighbour, who asked not to be identified, but his paralegal said there was an agreement between the two neighbours to spend $3,000 on the fence and another $1,000 for two gates, one for each property.
The paralegal provided CTV News Toronto with court documents showing the neighbour is seeking general damages in the amount of $5,000.
Mark Weisleder is a real estate lawyer and Senior Partner with www.Realestatelawyers.ca
Weisleder is not involved in the dispute with the Brampton neighbours, but said generally speaking a person can't build a fence and expect their neighbour to pay for it.
"There is no law in Ontario that says there must be a boundary fence between two neighbours," said Weisleder, who added "if there was an existing fence already there and it hadn't been broken or falling apart there is no reason to replace it."
“If one of the neighbours says I want an elaborate fence, they have the right to do that, but that doesn't mean they can go and collect from their neighbour if they refuse to pay,” Weisleder said.
Whenever there is a dispute between neighbours, Weisleder says the best thing to do is to try and settle it and avoid going to court.
"The best thing they can do is sit down and work it out,” said Weisleder.
Eilander says it's too late for that and now a judge will decide who has to pay for the fence, although there is currently a huge backlog of small claims court cases.
Some municipalities have "fence viewers" who act as referees in fence line disputes, but they must be contacted before the fence is built.