Fencing and livestock
Neighbors cows keep coming on our property due to failing division fence. We have no livestock. Do we have any obligation to maintain or fix this faulty fence since we don't own livestock? If we notify him about the roaming cows and he chooses not to fetch his cows, what recourse do we have? The last time I called him (about 2 years ago) and told him about the cows on our property, he said he'd spoken with his lawyer and was told we had to maintain half the fence. Haven't the laws changed since then?
Fuming in Augusta County, Virginia
1 Answer from Attorneys
Re: Fencing and livestock
Yes, you're quite correct, i.e., the law in the Commonwealth concerning so-called division fences
has indeed changed since cattleman (and lawyer)John Ames shot and killed his vegetable farmer neigbor, Mr. Oliver Perry Brooks of Caroline County, Virginia, back in April of 2004 over a similar dispute.
Adjoining land owners are now no longer required mutually to maintain division fences if one chooses to "allow his lands to lie open" as provided for in Section 55-317 of the Va. Code, and notifies his neighbor, accordingly.