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California’s New “Good Neighbor” Fence Law

fenceThe California Legislature, in its infinite wisdom, recently updated its law regarding “good neighbor” fences, that is, a common fence dividing two properties. The original law had been in place since the 1870s, and simply provided that both owners were mutually responsible for common fences. As a practical matter, if you paid to put up a fence, your neighbor was obligated to reimburse you for one half of the “reasonable cost” of that fence.

The new law creates much more certainty with regard to neighbors’ responsibilities regarding their common fence, and provided some guidance as to what situations might warrant not splitting the cost evenly. However, it also provided for a much more formal process and procedure for erecting a common fence and recovering your half of the cost. Failure to adhere to the letter of the new law could jeopardize your right to recover your half of the cost.

You can see the new law for yourself here.

In short, the new law states that there is a presumption that neighbors equally benefit from a common fence, and that the cost for building or fixing a common fence should be equally shared. It requires that a party intending to build or fix a common fence must first send a notice to their neighbor prior to doing any work. It also lays out the circumstances under which the presumption that both parties equally benefit (and therefore should pay equally) may be overcome.

If you’re going to build or fix a common fence, you have to send your neighbor a notice of your intention to do so at least 30 days before work starts. The notice must include the following information:

Of course, there are situations where both neighbors do not both equally benefit from a shared fence, and therefore the costs should not be shared equally. The new law provides guidelines for determining where this might be the case. Courts are directed to consider the following in trying to determine if costs should be divided other than equally:

None of the above factors are particularly specific, and are simply guidelines. The Courts are given broad discretion to split the costs of a common fence in essentially any manner that they view as fair. In extreme circumstances, a Court could even order that one party must be responsible for the entirety of the fence project.

Ultimately, while the new process may be a little daunting and incredibly specific, there is nothing in the law that says that you and your neighbor cannot come to an agreement outside of this procedure. (Of course, it is always best to put any agreement in writing.) In most circumstances, friendly neighbors should be able to work out fence problems without the involvement of any lawyers or courts. In rare circumstances where there is something unique about your property, your neighbor won’t agree to split the cost evenly, or you just don’t get along with your neighbor, it may be in your interest to talk about the specifics of your situation and your options with a local attorney. (Just a reminder: initial consultations are always free here at The Law Office of Jason L. Eliaser!) The most practical first step is to simply talk to your neighbor about any fence problems you might have.

Because good fences may make good neighbors, but good communication makes even better neighbors.

(Unfortunately, the Law Office of Jason Eliaser is not currently available to assist new clients with fence issues or lot line disputes. If you require legal assistance for a fence dispute, I recommend to contact a local attorney or certified lawyer referral service. Best of luck!)


Picture of fence in Little Italy, San Diego, Courtesy of Peyri Herrera, published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 License. Thanks, Peyri!

92 responses to “California’s New “Good Neighbor” Fence Law”

  1. my neighbor wants to put in a new fence, there are three of us to split the fee’s,
    my part is just a little part so when its done i’ll have 1/4 of my fence new but attached to my old fence which i share with a different neighbor and is leaning. so my thoughts are how much do i have to pay and what will happen to my side with the old and the new will one bring down the other.

  2. madhu says:

    i share fence with neighbor .they have big tree(its not oak tree)just on fence because of that fence fall .they are not ready to cut the tree which is main cause of falling fence.My question is that in that situation who is responsible to fix the fence.

  3. Lisa says:

    My neighbor tore down the fence while I was out of town, without letting me know anything about the costs, design or timing of the tear down. I came home to no fence and had to bring my dog to work for two days. He rebuilt it so a portion is lower than before and, after having leveled his yard and raised his ground, eliminates any sense of privacy for over 12 feet of the fence. Now their side of the fence comes to their waists and they can literally lean over into my yard – before they faced a 6 foot fence on their side. There must be a law against this

  4. Jacky says:

    My neighbor is a mobile home park, and the administration does not want to put a new fence that there tenants destroyed on our boundary line. I don’t know what else to do. I have children and people walking into my property all the time. I have posted private property signs called the cops and they haven’t been able to do anything. I just want the owner of the mobile home park to put a new fence.

  5. steve says:

    My neighbor recently in 2015 constructed a new fence on our property line that I and my tenants and neighbors find offensive.

    I found out they got permission from the county for a waiver for the 8 ft. fence.
    solid white….

    What can we do to get rid of this problem?

  6. Ken Miller says:

    Does this law apply to a proposed new fence if only one property owner wants the fence and the other does not? Is there still an equal or other obligation, either initially with the building, or with ongoing maintenance, on the part of the owner who does NOT want the fence?

  7. Michael Siebenhaar says:

    I had a fence replaced that the neighbor agreed to pay half for and when the contractor showed up onsite the neighbor changed their tune, I had the contractor install the new fence because the property will be rented and the old fence was a liability. What legal recourse do I have?

    • Jason says:

      Great question, Michael. Sorry to hear your neighbor backed out on your deal. It’s certainly possible you may have recourse with Small Claims Court or other remedies, but it is very difficult to say without getting a lot more details. Drop us a line and we’ll be able to discuss and advise you of your options moving forward. Remember, initial case evaluations are always free!

      [Disclaimer and mumbo-jumbo: ATTORNEY ADVERTISEMENT. The proceeding is generalized opinion, not advice on any individual specific circumstances. Viewing of this post does not constitute the provision of legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by viewing or responding to this post.]

  8. Does this Good Neighbor Fence Law law pertain to the retaining wall as well on a fence line that is on a slope? In my particular case, the fence is falling due to the retaining wall breaking down. The cause is due to multiple factors. Does the GNFL require both parties to pay equally to fix this problem.

    • Jason says:

      Great question, Dennis. Very generally speaking, the California law referred to in the article refers to not only fences but all “boundaries and monuments” between neighboring properties, which, in my opinion, should include retaining walls. Drop us a line and we can discuss the specifics of your particular situation and advise you of your options moving forward.

      [Disclaimer and mumbo-jumbo: ATTORNEY ADVERTISEMENT. The proceeding is generalized opinion, not advice on any individual specific circumstances. Viewing of this communication does not constitute the provision of legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by viewing or responding to this communication.]

  9. Zane says:

    I recently bought my house and the existing fencing on the north side is in need of repair; rotting, posts are rotted through and it bends during windy season. I priced new vinyl fencing and have taken the first, “communicated with my neighbor.” Without mentioning a cost factor, his first response was, “I would like to do a block wall and split that cost with you.” I am not adverse to block wall, however, all three sides of block wall for both of us, would be roughly 3x’s the cost of vinyl. My other neighbor is fine with vinyl and so his neighbor and both willing to split the costs. My neighbor is now thinking “any fencing” will be out of his budget, but I remain hopeful he will at least agree to the vinyl.
    My question is rather simple: Assuming I give proper notification and I pay 100% of the cost, can I legally replace a fence that is falling down.? I plan to get the city surveyor out to confirm the fence is properly on the property line and will wait for that report. I am also wondering if it turns out the fence is 100% on my property line, due to the fact the whomever built it didn’t properly mark the lines, can I change without his consent.? My last option, which I am certain I can do, is to build the new fence as close to the old fence as possible, but I loose 6-8″ of property line.

    Current fence is a “good neighbor” style where a section of wood boards are on my side and some on his side. I could take down my sections and put the new fencing up close to the posts. I admit this would look hideous on his side.

    Thanks..

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for the question, Zane. Phew. I get this kind of question a lot. I wish there was a clear and concise answer that applied to every scenario. Unfortunately, the law isn’t that generous and this is all very much in a grey area. My best suggestion is to sit down with your neighbors and work out the best compromise you can, and get everybody to agree (in writing) as to how to move forward. I, or any number of other local organizations or individuals, can act as a neutral to help mediate the dispute and/or reduce the agreement in writing. If that’s not possible because of bad blood between neighbors or somebody’s intractable position, I’m afraid the best course of action is going to be to hire a local attorney and for him or her to get all the details, and look at pictures and maps, and discuss with you your options moving forward.

      [Disclaimer and mumbo-jumbo: ATTORNEY ADVERTISEMENT. The proceeding is generalized opinion, not advice on any individual specific circumstances. Viewing of this communication does not constitute the provision of legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by viewing or responding to this communication.]

  10. Shawn says:

    My neighbors fence blew down on two sides of him. The portion we share was solid as a rock. He asked me to split the cost so he could get all new fence around his property with a redwood upgrade and different than the rest of most of the neighborhood, including my home.

    I sympathized with his fence and understood where he was coming from but could not make sense out of replacing a very good standing fence.

    On Monday morning while I was dressing my young daughter in her room, we saw men outside her room…..then I looked and our fence was gone. The neighbor is clearly paying for it, but I would have expected at minimum curtesy, and maximum some legal violations….peeping Tom….removal/theft of shared property.

    To make it worse, the neighbor pulled the fence in a few inches away from my home and the original fence line. The issue is that we have a front wood gate that now has a big space between the fence and gate….any dog could easily escape.

    In addition, he appears to be making a deliberate attempt to not be a good neighbor by intentionally not covering the metal posts with redwood like all the others are on the new fence. I don’t expect any recourse there….but simply shows intent IMHO.

    Any legal recourse?

    • Jason says:

      Great question, Shawn.

      This is another one of those “grey areas” not expressly covered by the law. Yes, a common fence is generally the shared property of both neighbors, and at least hypothetically one neighbor should get permission before tearing it down. But! The more practical question is probably this: is your property worth less because of the change? Did the old fence have value that the new fence didn’t? As a practical matter, it may not be worth it to pursue any action unless you can demonstrate real harm or damages.

      It’s impossible to say if there is any practical legal recourse without getting all the details and sitting down and talking about your options. Give us a call if you want to pursue.

      [Disclaimer and mumbo-jumbo: ATTORNEY ADVERTISEMENT. The proceeding is generalized opinion, not advice on any individual specific circumstances. Viewing of this communication does not constitute the provision of legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by viewing or responding to this communication.]

  11. Roger says:

    We bought our home 3 years ago from the original owner (house was built in 2004). The wood fence on one side of the property is shared by a neighbor who also happens to be a renter. Additionally, they have a young energetic dog who has broken through the fence several times recently to come in to our yard. The dog even jumped on my 6 year old’s back and scratched him up pretty bad. Needless to say, the fence is due for replacement ASAP (it is pretty well rotten, and has no chance of holding back the neighbor dog). I am completely reasonable and would fully agree to split the cost 50/50. I got the renter’s landlord contact inforation and gave him a call. He seemed uninterested in the problem and felt that it should be on his renter to pay for his half of the fence. What do you think my expectations should be of the landlord? My feeling is that things such as fence replacements are ordinary, expected repairs and are on the list of things that are costs associated with buying a home and renting it out.
    I’d really appreciate your feedback!

    • Jason says:

      While I’d have to get more information to know for sure, it sounds like repair and/or replacement is “necessary” in your case. Be sure to follow the statutory requirements of the new law, and your neighbor should be liable for half the cost.

      If you need any assistance or would like for us to look at the matter, please feel free to contact us at any time.

      [Disclaimer and mumbo-jumbo: ATTORNEY ADVERTISEMENT. The proceeding is generalized opinion, not advice on any individual specific circumstances. Viewing of this communication does not constitute the provision of legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by viewing or responding to this communication.]

    • Nick says:

      The landlord now knows of what happened to your child. I don’t know what his liability would be to you for the first event. But if anything happened subsequently, given he refused to repair the fence, my opinion would be that he would be responsible, just as much as the tenant, for any damages. But that’s just an opinion. See an attorney for actual advice.

  12. Dan says:

    Hey there. Our neighbor just tore down a stand of
    bamboo that acted as a boundary fence (though we believe the bamboo was completely within our property lines. They did obtain permission from our landlord, but now there is no barrier with the property adjacent to us in the backyard. The neighbors can look straight into our backyard from their bedroom windows. We also have a dog who can escape through a new gap in the backyard. I’ve combed through the “fence” sections of “Neighbor Law: fences, trees, boundaries, and more” but haven’t found any information about who is liable to finance a new boundary fence. To boot, our landlord has historically been lackadaisical about addressing housing concerns, so we are not sure what to do to get a new fence up, something that is a pressing need from our perspective. Should we try to broker a new fence funded by our landlord and the neighbor landlord? Are we as tenants somehow on the line to share costs? Any advice would be very very welcome! Thank you!!!

    Divided Dan 🙂

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for the question, Dan.

      Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us present your options moving forward.

      Best of luck.

  13. Dahle says:

    My California neighbors agreed the 25 year old rotton wood fence needed replacement but they kept stalling and I finally went over and provided quotes, etc. for the vinyl they wanted (I was happy with wood) and told them to contact me when they were ready. In the meantime they were supposed to put one steel post on their side to hold it up. They never did that nor did they ever contacted me to proceed. I got tired of waiting 7 months so before the winter storms were to hit I wrote them a letter and told them I was going to repair the worst half in 3 weeks, giving them notice, and they didn’t have to do anything but keep children and pets away for that day. The day of the event after the repairs were done, and I paid the contractor, they started confronting me in an attempt in my opinion to get out of paying or to intimidate me to not even ask for money. If I sue them in small claims court will I prevail even though I told them “you don’t have to do anything.” I only did 50% of the fence with new wood and posts and put the good part on my side because I felt I was going this alone. I left the remaining 50% of the fence to do later and it was stronger and more reinforced. Should I sue and can I win? Since then I have asked for reimbursement and my request was ignored.

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for the question, Dahle.

      Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Best of luck.

  14. Sorina says:

    Our common perimeter fence fell over a few weeks ago due to the El Nino winds. The neighbor refuses to file a claim with his home insurance or pay the shared cost. His rationale is that he paid for the fence last time. #1) When the last fence was erected my parents owned the property (it’s now under new ownership- I now co-own the home with my mom), #2) He would not take money from my parents because the wanted the pretty looking face on the fence looking to his property. My problem is that, while I know I can go and file a Small Claims against him for his shred cost, I don’t have time to wait the 30 days to Notice him because I have 2 dogs. While we have tried to talk to him (wasting time), I have had to keep my dogs on a leash in the yard which is NOT the norm. Thus, can the 30-day Notice time be waived under the new California law due to suffering or dogs; are there any exceptions to the 3–day Notice rule?

    • Sorina says:

      *typo: suffering OF dogs.* Not sure the Small Claims is even a viable method because even if Judgment was in my favor the neighbor is retired and I do not know where he banks so I wouldn’t have a reasonable way to collect.

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for the question, Sorina.

      Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Best of luck.

      • Jess says:

        We own a duplex and our fence is shared with another duplex. The fence had fallen over last year so my husband purchased 5 poles and put the fence back up. The fence is leaning a bit, but is still up and has stayed up since he put it up a year ago. Recently (2 weeks ago) the owner of the other duplex contacted our tenant and left a rude letter with her to give to us demanding we better fix the fence because she will be having a renter w a dog in the next week. My question is: if the fence is standing up and hasn’t fallen down over the last year, are we responsible to pay for half of the fence if she decided she wants it to be perfect and pays for the fence to be fixed for her tenant with the dog?

        • Jason says:

          Thanks for the question, Jess.

          Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

          Best of luck!

  15. Louie says:

    Is there any exception to the 30 day notice to build a new fence, since the old one fell down and I have a dog and am liable if she goes into neighbors yard?

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for the question, Louie.

      Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Best of luck!

  16. Andrew says:

    Hi I have a common fence with a neighbor that fell over. We discussed splitting the cost. He decided to go with a contractor of his choosing because he wanted it done right. Now I spoke with him three times before during and told him after that the fence should be facing both sides. By both sides I meant one side faced his yard and the following panel would face my yard. This is just an visual thing that way the poles aren’t visible to either party. He agreed with my suggestion. Once the fence was finished it was all facing his yard and now I have nothing but poles showing. Not only that it’s been over a year and he barley comes to discuss payment of the fence with me. He had stated that he would come by to disclose the financial situation the following week after the fence was built. Now I believe he did that to have me forget about the fact that we had decided the fence to be done in the best interest to both parties visually. Am I liable to pay him for half of the coSt or even any of it at all?

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for the question, Andrew.

      Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  17. Stephany says:

    Hello,
    My neighbor claims because we have a pool and he does not he is not responsible for the fence when I told him about he Good Neighbor law. He is quoting the law that I must have a 5′ barrier. I read the law but saw nothing in it that mentioned pools. The way I read it -he still benefits from the fence. Thank you.

    Stephany

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for the question, Stephany.

      Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  18. Rosa Saldana says:

    I live in a trailer home park and my new neighbor is building a fence I wasn’t told anything about it and I strongly believe part of it is being build in my side. What should I do? Feel confused and mad not to mentioned annoyed.

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for the question, Rosa.

      Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  19. Terrance says:

    Just moved into a house on an acre the neighbor on the end came over (no introduction) and says, “We have to fix our fence, I will git some estimates and let you know what your share will be.” Also, made mention that she sued the last owners for the fence. a windstorm came and downed about 30′ of fence. I told them I could fix the fence (labor.) I did the pre prep work, removing cement pillers, bought a cement mixer, steel post, and piller forms. Contacted the neighbor so they could get the fence post, and any planks they wanted replaced. Neighbor wanted the entire fence replaced, raised, and changed to red wood. Told them I was just replacing to damaged section, and all conversation stopped. Long story short, they hired someone, and are trying to bill me $1000. I assumed 1. There was some type of judgement on the first suite; 2. They were responsible for keeping the fence in good repair prior to us getting the property (like I stated fence was leaning prior to my purchase.) And I fixed that also prior to the windstorm, which held during that storm. 3. I put in money, and labor… A thousand is not coming out of my pocket, bank, or any other financial stronghold of mine!!!

    • Jason says:

      Thank you for the question, Terrance. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  20. Lisa says:

    I share a cement fench with my neighbor. 4 years ago I advised them that the fence was moving due to their tree. John my neighbor said it’s not my tree maybe it is yours. Four months after discussing the fence moving I pulled my tree. I never complained again until the fence fell 3 weeks ago. I have cement all over my backyard and my neighbor requested not to move it due to contractors bidding on the clean up and removal of the blocks. I was advised last night that the neighbor cannot cut and remove the tree until the fence is removed ? I advised my neighbor I will help pay the cost to repair the fence but not remove it. Is this fair ?

    • Jason says:

      Lisa:

      Thank you for the question. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  21. Chloe says:

    What can be done when a person wants to personally build their section of a fence that was blown over in a storm (person has plenty of experience with fences) but is shared with a neighbor who wants the fence professionally done?

    • Jason says:

      Thank you for the question, Chloe. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  22. jeff says:

    I have a fence that needed some repair so I made the repairs but the next day the neighbors pushed the fence that I fixed down. The next day they ambushed me in the yard to tell me they want to have all their fences replaced with all there neighbors. I told them all our needed was a few new 4×4’s(I fixed them with steel supports) but would have no problem replacing the 4×4’s with my son. The neighbor replied she wanted new fences before having her yard re-done. In short IMHO it only needs repair she only wants that new look!. What are my rights to chose fix or replace.

    Thanks

    • jeff says:

      choose 🙂

    • Jason says:

      Jeff:

      Thank you for the question. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  23. AndieC says:

    Can a neighbor potentially be required to pay more than half the costs of fence repair/replacement if they hang steel shelving and tools and things on the fence, causing it to lean heavily to their side before breaking? With pictures/proof of course.

    • Jason says:

      Andie:

      Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  24. Sue Nix says:

    I have a neighbor that we have a mutual fence that’s 40 plus years old. He had a pit bull that has broke through the fence three times into my yard, I now have to have a bat in my hand when I go in my yard out of fear the dog will be there. I got estimates to get a new fence and recently gave it to him and explained he needs to pay half. He said no way he doesn’t have the money.

    He’s inherited the house free and clear and has no house payments… He does no maintance to the house so I know he just doesn’t want to do it. Is there anything I can do…… Can I get a court order. I fear going out of my house that the dog will be there.. It’s a awful feeling.

    • Jason says:

      Sue:

      Thank you for the question. You certainly have my sympathies, that is a terrible situation. The article sets forth the general procedure for compelling a neighbor to pay for half of the repair or replacement for a fence in California. Other than that, unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

    • Terrance says:

      Sue… Contact code enforcement, as well as, animal control. I belive code enforcement can have him/her fix or share the cost due to the type of animal. I.e. Health & Safety code violation. I would start there, good luck!!!

  25. Angelique says:

    My neighbor replaced our shared fence with a vinyl fence. They had communicated to me the costs and general design of the fence that was white or an off white. I advised them they I do not find vinyl fences aesthetically pleasing especially a light colored and strongly prefer a wooden good neighbor fence that is comparable to our, then, current fence and that matches or closely resembles the rest of my fencing that is also wooden. We communicated several times and I entertained their ideas, but maintained that I prefer a wooden fence and offered to pay half of the cost of a DIY wooden good neighbor fence. They proceeded to purchase the items without a final agreement between us and proceeded to replace the fence on the property line. I let them know that if they replace the fence, I will be painting it to paint it to or use other means to disguise the ugliness of the plastic. In previous discussions they did not disclose to me that there will be a gap from the bottom of the fence to the ground that at sometimes exceeds 6 inches. Now my dog and my small child can fit under the fence and out to the street from their side of the fence that is exposed to the street. When I brought it to their attention that this fence does not have the same integrity as the original fence and that there is a large gap, they told me that its my problem. When I let the husband know that I will need to permanently affix a solution to the fence with screws so that it will be safe for my family, he told me that I am not going to screw anything into his fence. If I would have know this or had been given a chance, I would have asked that they set back the fence and leave the original fence in place . Their unshared portion of the fence that faces the street was in major disrepair and falling apart, so as a good neighbor, we offered that my husband would help with labor to make their fence safe for their family no matter what fence they choose for that side. I did offer them 1/2 of the cost of a good neighbor DIY wooden fence, which my half was around $500, which I have not yet given them. I would like to know if I can screw into the fence lattice to grow vines or plants to disguise the fence and affix something to the bottom of the fence so that it is safe for my family and dog? Also, since I offered them $500, can I deduct the cost of materials for a permanent solution for closing the gap at the bottom of the fence from my offer? Last, do I need to contribute funds to a fence that I did not want or had no say in choosing? If I do not contribute, do I forfeit my right to do what I like with my side of the fence?

    Thank you!!

    • Jason says:

      Hi Angelique. Thanks for the question.

      Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  26. Mary says:

    Hi! My neighbor built a new fence in my back yard without anything put in writing. Verbally spoke with us breifly and stated he would do it with or without us. We said we would pitch in, but when the fence was built it was built facing the pretty side in their yard and the “ugly” side on ours. Knowing that this was to be a “good neighbor” fence- he did not build it half/half equally facing both sides and brought a bill without prior notice of how much it would be. When we asked him why it was built the way it was he stated “well, you should have said something when i was building it.” He stormed off and later brought us a letter stating to respond within 3 days on meathod of payment otherwise court action will be taken. How do I address this with him in regards to the 50/50 law? Am I right or wrong? Please let me know so that I can respond to him today as today is the 3rd day.

    Thank you,

    Mary

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for the question, Mary.

      Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  27. Mary says:

    On top of it all… there were termites in the old fence from what he told us. I don’t believe he treated the termite problem. I don’t want to pay for something that will be destroyed by termites soon after it was built.

  28. Lawrence Chua says:

    We recently bought a house 3 months ago and the seller told us after closing that our next door neighbor’s fence is encroaching 6 feet on our property and is reflected on the survey .How much time do we have to reconcile this issue with our neighbor ?Is it true if we leave it for 2 years ,he will own that piece of land he’s encroaching ?is having a written agreement sufficient to cover for it if we come into terms or would I rather have them sign a rental agreement ?I appreciate your advise .

    • Jason says:

      Lawrence:

      Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  29. Rene says:

    Question #1: Does the Common Fence Law apply even if the fence is set back from the common property line. The fence, erected by us years ago, is about 1 foot inside our property. Homes are from the 1920s, back in the days of Zero Lot lines.

    Question #2: We erected common fences more than 20 years ago and, due to a surveyors error, they are well within our property line. Neighbors have built sheds and porches right up to our fence. If they alienate me enough, can I have new fences erected on my property line, thus forcing them to move their sheds and porches. This is not a recourse that I would consider taking but we now have new owners who are pretty difficult to deal with. I just want to know what’s available in my “legal arsenal”.

    Thank you.

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for the questions, Rene.

      Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  30. Alex Moreno says:

    We live on a sloping hillside. Our backyards are paritally graded with a slope.

    Our neighbors on the side that is higher recently did some backyard landscaping. Moving some dirt around and now the fence is starting to fall apart. It was already old and probably needed to be redone.

    Since they are on a higher grade, we would like to have a retaining wall/fence. Maybe 2 ft high wood retaining wall, and having the fence ontop of that.

    The retaining wall is there so that the dirt that is from his landscaping does not end up pushing up on the fence and bowing it like it is doing now. So, mainly the retaining wall is for his benefit mainly.

    We have no problem splitting the cost of the fence 50/50. However, we wanted to know if we should also be responsible for the retaining wall portion of the fence?

    • Jason says:

      Alex:

      Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  31. Nancy says:

    A lot was purchased next to mine and the new owners will be building a house. We share 100 feet of property line. There is no fence now. They have a dog and plan on building a fence. Since they want to keep in their dog, they said they are willing to pay for the fence themselves and will put the “good” side facing me. All very nice but am I obligated to pay for the half that we share? I would rather not spend the money and if they are happy to pay for it, why should I? Thanks!

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for the question, Nancy.

      Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  32. Lucky says:

    Te neighbor behind our house is not willing to even have a conversation about changing the 20-year-old fence which is really in bad state. She even has a swimming pool which is hazardous to little children. We are willing to change the fence at our cost, but what process should be follow? When we send her letters, she refuses to receive them. Any guidance will be appreciated.

    • Jason says:

      Hi Lucky, thanks for the question.

      Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  33. Dave says:

    Is there a provision in the law that requires one property owner to assume the full costs of replacing a fence due to damage caused by the negligence of one party, or are both parties responsible in all circumstances?

    • Jason says:

      Hello, Dave. Thanks for the question.

      Generally speaking, both parties own the shared fence, and both parties are equally responsible for repair or replacement. Certain specific circumstances will deviate from these general rules, but those would have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If one party was at fault due to negligence for damage done to shared property between the negligent person and another, the other owner could hypothetically sue for the damage done. But for situations such as these, Court is rarely the most efficient and effective way to resolve the issue. Even if it means compromising more than one feels they should have to, working it out with one’s neighbor is almost always better and more cost-effective, if that’s possible.

      Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  34. Alyssia says:

    My neighbors tore down the fence prior to our knowledge. We did agree to go 1/2 on costs with the intentions that the fence would stay the same in which it was taking down. Meaning, the post would be on their side not on mine. I originally had the flat side. Now that the fence is down, the neighbor is saying he is going to put it up with post on my side. I have spoken with city. Can I do anything about that?

    • Jason says:

      Hi Alyssia, thanks for the question.

      Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  35. anthony hostetter says:

    Hello,
    My field fence is built 2′ onto our property. My neighbor wishes to connect to our fence at several locations and use our fence. He has not paid anything for the fence. I would like some kind of legal agreement that gives me permission to terminate at any time and for any reason-can I write a simple agreement and have him sign it?. If my neighbor connects to our fence without our permission do I have the legal right to remove the 2′ piece of fence he is using to tie into our fence? I have had our property surveyed and the property line marked so there is no doubt where the property line is.
    This is a single straight section of fence about 600′ long.

    • Jason says:

      Anthony:

      Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Generally speaking regardless of who paid to build it, a fence on a boundary line is 50/50 co-owned by the neighbors. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  36. Sophie says:

    I have a similar question – If demolition of the original fence has already occurred, without any written notice or written agreement, does the good neighbor law still stand?

    • Jason says:

      Sophie:

      Thanks for the question. Generally speaking, the Good Neighbor Fence Law applies to construction of new fence as well as repair or replacement of old fence. With further assistance regarding your specific situation, and how the law may apply, please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  37. Cheryl says:

    I bought 2 acres in the back country of San Diego County on a corner. The two sides that were not bordered by roads were on vacant propteries whose house had been uninhabited for years. It had an old field fence with rotting posts. I removed the old fence on all four sides and replaced it with cedar privacy fencing, 6′ all around except for a section facing a 40 acre parcel that has two houses on the far side of the property from me. Can’t even see the houses. In a small section of that fence we brought it down to three feet so we would have a view of the woods. We have a gates on three sides of the fence.

    As we were completing the fence project, the owner of the 40 acres appeared and was angry that we had taken down her “grandfather’s fence.” I explained that I had no way of knowing who had put the fence up and that it was falling down, posts rotting etc. I showed her the pile of rolled fencing and the stack of posts and told her she was welcome to take them if she wanted. I also told her I was paying for the entire cost of the fence which was improving the value of her property. A year has passed and her daughter has moved into one of the houses. She recently drove stakes and put up no trespassing signs and barb wire across the area where our fence drops to three feet. It is unsightly to say the least. Looks a bit like prison wire.

    The other piece of this story is that we live in a wild fire area and most of us drag areas to keep the dry grass and brush down to prevent the spread of wildfires. This neighbor allows their acreage to be totally wild and the underbrush is dense and tall.

    What would you do in my situation?

    • Jason says:

      Cheryl:

      Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  38. Brenda says:

    we are paying to replace the boundary fence between us and our neighbors to the right in our back yard . Our neighbors refuse to help pay. The fence continues into our front yard about 20 ft. I was told that this is no longer a boundary fence but a privacy fence for our neighbor , since this portion of the fence does not enclose our back yard, but gives privacy to our neighbors back yard. Can you tell me the rules on that type of boundary fence. ( or privacy fence).

    • Jason says:

      Brenda:

      Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  39. Michael Steele says:

    What are school liabilities for damage caused by district staff to fences owned by the public which adjoins the school/resident property line?

    • Jason says:

      Michael:

      Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  40. Al says:

    We got a quote to replace our fence. The neighbor has 2 trees on his side that have grown into the fence line. They suggested boxing into our yard to go around trees instead of removing them.
    Will this affect the property line in the future? Someone told me after 5 years it would become the neighbors property.

    • Jason says:

      Al:

      Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  41. Sandy says:

    Our neighbors has several dead trees on his property. We filed a complaint with the city and our neighbor is disputing the property lines. We have lived here for over 20 years and as long as we have lived here the trees have been on his side of the fence.Apparently he is right about the property line but at this point it has been almost 20 years. Is there a law that states if something has been on their side of the fence all these years. are they still responsible for the care of those trees?

    • Jason says:

      Sandy:

      Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  42. Teo says:

    I need to replace a fence that collapsed. My neighbour is out of reach, the house is abandoned. Whatshould I do to formally inform the neighbour of the upcoming work?

    • Jason says:

      Teo:

      Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Please feel free to contact us (or any qualified property lawyer local to you) so you can give us all the relevant details and have us advise you of your options moving forward.

      Thanks!

  43. Ed. R says:

    I am trying to help my mother out with repairs to her fence. She is a 70 year old widower and has lived on the property for over 50 years. The fence in question runs 120 ft. Originally I was going to do the work with family members. I got a quote from Home Depot and was set to go. I contacted the owner of the neighboring property, its rental and the owner lives out of town. He said he was willing to go half, but did not want cheap stuff from Home Depot and wanted to put up a quality fence that would last. I told him that sounded great to me. I set up a estimate with a contractor, $3,6000, but he did not like the wood that was going to be used. He then said he would get back to me with an estimate from someone he knew. After that I did not hear back from him. I called and left him messages-NOTHING. I then made a last call saying I had spoken with an attorney and I was going to take him to court. He called me the very next day. He then said he knew someone to get the job done for $4,000. I told him that was great. He then changed his mind and said he would do the work if I gave him $2,500 for material. i told him that was way to much. He did not supply an itemized list. I told him him I wanted a contractor, if we were going to split the cost. He seemed disinterested. As i was dealing with this guy, my mother let me know she and my father have tried to deal with him for several years and he always has an excuse, why he cant go forward. At this point I am go going to get three quality estimates and go with the best one. I am then going to send him the bill or take him to court. I have tried to work with him and asked him to get estimates, if he wants a certain type of fence installed.-NOTHING
    Am I good to go?

    • Jason says:

      Ed:

      Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Generally speaking, though not strictly necessary, I think it is always best to have at least one estimate to provide to the neighbor as a basis for the cost of repair or replacement of an existing fence. Then, the property owner can send the notice described in the article above along with the estimates. It’s important for a property owner to send the letter necessitated by the code (or have an attorney send a letter), with all of the requisite information in the appropriate timeline. If the neighbor doesn’t pay after the work is done, the property owner should be able to recover the neighbor’s share in small claims court.

  44. Janet says:

    My neighbor had a rotting fence on the property line of our driveway that finally blew down in a windstorm. Part of it originally had closed off her swimming pool area. She did not notify me at all, either in writing or verbally, but she went and rebuilt the fence ONLY around the pool area, instead of the whole property line, so now my back yard is exposed to the public because anyone can walk in off the street down my driveway.
    Am I within my rights to build my own fence attached to hers with a gate so my back yard is closed in?

    • Jason says:

      Janet:

      Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Generally speaking, a shared fence on a property line is assumed to benefit both neighbors, and both neighbors are responsible for the shared cost of construction, repair, or replacement of such a fence. Also, regardless of who paid for it to be built, a fence on a property line is the shared property of both neighbors.

  45. Jessie Holt says:

    hello, my neighbors and i agreed with replacing a fence. we agreed on the vendor to do the fence replacement. each party would get a separate invoice.
    additionally, I did some proactive steps and cut down a tree that would of caused some issues when installing the fence due to the roots. All set and ready for installation.
    now the work is done, but something is not right, seems my sprinkler system was pulled up, a flower bed box and the tree trunk roots were cut to allow the fence to be installed such that the installer did not need to fuss with the existing concrete fence posts.

    so, i have a torn up sprinkler system for about 120 ft, broken garden box and that tree stump to deal repair.

    the fence company said that those items were disclosed during installation. no one was home so not sure how that can be true.

    any advice?

    thanks
    JH

    • Jason says:

      Jessie:

      Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I’m not able to give advice on specific circumstances on this forum. Generally speaking, regardless of what the service is, if a service provider does damage to property through their negligence (or intentionally), that service provider may be liable for damaging the property. They may have liability for professional negligence, regular old negligence, or even potentially under a trespass theory. Unfortunately, though, one would likely have to bring a legal action to recover in such a scenario.

  46. Steve says:

    Is notification by voice and/or text messages/emails a suitable means of notification?

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for the question, Steve.

      For the type of notice required by the Good Neighbor Fence law, the only requirement as to its form is that it be “written.” So, as long as it contained all the information otherwise required, notification via text message or email should suffice. It would be important to be able to demonstrate that the messaging number or email address was actually held by the neighbor, and that they received communications via those accounts. A voice mail would be insufficient.

  47. Teo says:

    Hello,
    I just finished building a fence around my property as the old one was falling apart. None of my neighbors contributed as they said they have no onterest of doing so. Furthermore, one of them even told me that if I put the new fence in I better put it on my side of the property because he feels I am encroaching into their property. This neigbor lives in a diferent state now and the property is vacant. I sent emails with the contractor’s proposal but never got an answer. They sometimes take my calls but do not want to reply to my emails. If the fence is already built can I still claim their share of the cost?
    Thank you