Don’t Fence Me In

There are new laws added to the books every year… One in particular caught my attention as being of concern to California homeowners because a neighboring friend of mine found themselves in a similar situation not too long ago..

Bamboo Fence - winnond

Adjoining Owners Equally Responsible for Shared Fences and Boundaries

Beginning January 1st of 2014, California landowners of properties that share fences and other boundaries with neighboring properties, must follow the newly added California Civil Code § 841. According to the code, adjoining property owners share the benefits of these fences and boundaries equally, therefore they are “equally responsible for the reasonable costs of
construction, maintenance, or necessary replacement of the fence”. unless otherwise stated in writing.

Because of this shared responsibility, any landowner who intends to incur costs for a fence must give a 30 day written notice to each adjoining property owner affected. The notice must include:

  • Notification of the presumption of equal responsibility of the “reasonable” costs
  • A description of the problem with the fence
  • The proposed solution to address the problem
  • The estimated costs
  • The proposed sharing of those costs
  • A proposed timeline for getting the problem addressed

This can be overcome by presenting evidence that shows the equal sharing of the costs aren’t justified. The court may decide the costs aren’t “reasonable”, that the benefits of the fence aren’t equally shared, that the design elements favor one land owners style more than the others, and other factors. The court can then decide to order contributions less than an equal share or no contribution at all.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence, but being a good neighbor goes a long way.


Click here to see the complete California Civil Code 841.

Image courtesy of winnond  /