California’s Good Neighbor Fence Law

CA Good Neighbor Law
5 min read

What is it and How Will it Help Me?

Everything you need to know about the California Good Neighbor Fence Law!

If your in need of a new division fence between you and your neighbors adjoining properties, and a dispute arises, you may be at a lose of what to do.  The most common dispute is who will incur the costs and whether or not there should be a shared responsibility due to the equal benefit the fence will have.  If this sounds familiar then your in the right place and your problem is soon to be solved with The California Good Neighbor Law also referred to as California Civil Code 841 or The Good Neighbor Fence Act of 2013.

Boundary Line Fence Disputes

There are many reasons disputes may arise between neighbors when it comes to fences.  From boundary line disputes, to one of the more common issues, which is the neighbor(s) outright refusal to help pay for the cost of a new fence, maintenance or repairs. 

Most would agree that, yes, in most cases, splitting the cost is the right thing to do and “fair”.  Despite this, many neighbors will downright refuse to pay a penny towards the costs. 

Whether they are facing financial hardships of their own, are very tight with their money, or just take no pride in the upkeep of their property, the refusal usually comes from the misconception that they are not legally responsible to pay.  Where on earth this belief ever came from is unknown, but it is widely accepted and 100% wrong!

What Do I Do?

So you are presented with the same predicament?  It wouldn’t be fair for you to pay for the whole fence, and the law is clear that you don’t have to.

CA Civil Code Section 841

Here is the Actual Law for those of you who like reading this sort of stuff –  CIVIL CODE Section 841

And for those of you who would rather read a layman’s description of the California Good Neighbor Fence Law, here goes…

CA’s Good Neighbor Fence Law Summary

In California, two people whose properties border each other are both required to maintain an existing fence between the properties, with only a few exceptions.  In short, each owner has to pay one-half of the cost of maintaining or replacing the fence.

Exceptions to The Good Neighbor Fence Law

Of course, like many laws there are exceptions.

  • If your neighbor has never fenced his land, he does not have to provide a fence that only really serves you.
    • This applies to those who live in rural areas where fences are not as common and many landowners don’t want to build or maintain a fence around their property.  In this case, if a neighbor builds a fence, the fenceless owner doesn’t have the pay for it.  Unless the fenceless owner someday decides to fence in his own property benefitting from the already existing division fence.  In that case, he has to pay the other owner for one-half of the already existing fence.  To put it much more simply, If a property owner benefits from the fence, he has to contribute to its cost.

What if My Neighbor Doesn’t Care if Fence Falls Down

A lot of people make the argument that since they don’t care if their property has a fence or not, they aren’t benefiting from the fence.  Well, it’s simpler than that.  If the neighbor has a fence around his house, whether he likes it or not, a court will find that he benefits from the fence. Period.

For example, in the area where you live, all of the houses have had fenced yards going way back to the 1950s.  Your neighbor is on the hook for half of the new fence.

However, you can be right and still have to pay for the whole fence.  This is if you don’t take the proper steps leading up to the construction of the fence.

The Proper Legal Steps to Take to Ensure Victory

If you have ever sat through a small claims court session you undoubtedly saw at least one litigant going after a neighbor to pay for half of a fence. It happens all the time.

So what do you do?

  1. Start out by documenting the current condition of the fence.  Include good color pictures.
  2. Call a minimum of 3 fencing companies, such as RC Fences and Decks, and get clear and concise bids from each!
  3. Print out a copy of the Notice of Intent to Alter Shared Boundary Fence.   Fill it out fully and send it to your neighbor by certified mail with a return receipt requested a minimum of 30 days before beginning construction.
  4. Schedule one of the fence contractors, most likely you’ll want to choose RC Fences and Decks, due to their superb attention to detail along with their reasonable prices,  but keep all of the bids so you can show that the price was reasonable.
  5. Once the fence is completed, make payment in full to the contractor, making sure to keep all documents such as invoices, receipts, copies of your check, etc. for court!
  6. Make a demand to the neighbor for half of the costs.

If he still refuses now you will need to go down to the courthouse and file a small claims suit against your neighbor and pay the small fee.

Prepare for your Court Date

When you show up for court be prepared with the pictures, the bids, a copy of your check, a copy of the 30 day notice and proof of service, as well as a copy of Code of Civil Procedure section 841.

As the law is on your side, the case is a sure win, as long as you followed the proper procedure outlined above.  The only issue is now you must collect the amount ordered to be paid to you.  This, as many people know, can be a whole other issue, and information on the collection can be found on your local county court self-help website.

If you have any further questions regarding California’s Good Neighbor Fence Law call RC Fences today and we can walk you step by step through the entire process to make sure you don’t make any mistakes and risk having to pay the entire cost of your new beautiful fence!

For more information or questions please call RC FENCES @ (925) 405-7658 or email at info@rcfences.com.

 

Comments

  1. Neighbor wants to replace fallen fence due to construction on his property. Neighbor wants to upgrade the whole new fence and pay for the whole project. However, he wants all the planks on his side while the 2x4s are in my side. I have issues with that because the old fence had the planks on my side. Aesthetically, it looks better and I have another fence with another neighbor where I already have the 2x4s on my side. This appears to be the pattern on our block. Every property on the North side has the planks and the on Southern fence you have the 2x4s. The spiders build their webs on the 2x4s and birds perch on the 2x4s. and defecate on them.

    1. The neighbor paying (if you are not splitting the cost) would have the right to insist that the good side be pointed towards his yard. If you don’t approve of this my advice would be to split the cost equally in which you will probably have to agree to alternate panels or build a good neighbor fence.

    2. You do not absolutely share the cost of the fence. There is a rebuttable presumption that can be overcome. Someone that doesn’t want to pay for the fence can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that imposing equal responsibility would be unjust. Assuming your neighbor will pay half is incorrect.

      1. According to the law, you do have the responsibility to pay for half of a shared fence. Yes, your right there is a defense one could present in court to fight the assumption that they owe half. The main one being, that they don’t benefit from the erection of said fence. Yet, if the yards were already fenced in previously, and if you have other fences connecting to the one in question, you are more than likely going to get a judgment against you for half the cost. I appreciate your comment, but you must realize the majority of the time, these cases will be fought in small claims court by neighbors without much legal knowledge or without additional attorneys and the judge will likely follow the letter of the law.

        1. Thank you for your article. Our situation is different then all the comments I have read.

          Our backyard fence (100’) is on or rear neighbors front yard side fence. We both had existing wooden fences, about 12” apart. Each fence on our own respective properties.

          Our neighbor, without talking to us, tore his fence down and had a vinyl fence put up.

          I noticed this when it was almost done. I asked a contractor how much to tear down my older wooden fence. I told him I would also throw my neighbor a bone. He said that would be nice, as most people do not do that. We were gone for a free days, and the contractor had a job cancel, so he asked if he could come early and remove the fence. He did.

          A day later, while I was out, the neighbor came and spoke to my wife in a very critical fashion. That’s my fence, how could you do this, you are encroaching on my property, etc, quiet animated and critical. ( Remember, we were never approached about this at all.)

          As he approached my wife in such a critical harsh manner I feel less inclined to offer him anything. I am not certain if I have any legal obligation to do anything here. Thanks. All the Best…

      2. The solution is simple a fence called a good neighbor fence where the rails as you call 2x4s alternate with every post linearly.

    3. I bought a newly built home in 2000. The builder had built a fence between my neighbor and me ( there was no fence on that side of the neighbor’s property before). The fence is attached on two sides to my neighbor’s existing fence. Part of the fence is now leaning into the neighbor’s property. The neighbor wants me to replace the fence and pay for it 100%, saying this is not a ‘boundary fence”. I don’t know why she says that. The fence completes the enclosure of her property and I feel she has as much benefit of it as I do. I think she should pay half. Any tips on how to proceed?

  2. Part of our fence fell down last year we contacted the gentelman who owns the home ( its a rental) and has a pool. We wanted to replace it and he said we need 3 bids, my wife worked for months to get 3 bids and when we presented him with these he promptly said he could not afford to replace the fence. This year the fence is leaning towards our house and part of the fence is on the ground, my wife got 3 bids and has contacted a contractor to build a new fence she sent a letter to the gentleman to tell him we are going to replace the fence and He sent us an e mail and I quote as for sending me a bill for my portion of the fence, since I personaly did not agree to participate in the replacement there for I will not pay anything. Do owners of homes with pools fall under a different set of rules.

    1. The pool has nothing to do with it. As long as you took the proper steps in contacting the owner, getting multiple bids which you presented to him, and hopefully sent him a notice a month prior to starting the work of Intent to Alter Shared Boundry, than according to the CA Good Neighbor Law he is legally responsible to pay you half the costs. Your next step is to file a lawsuit against him in small claims!

      1. I have a neighbor that has built a short retaining wall on his side of the sharing fence line. He has planted shrubs and now most of the water for those shrubs in between our shared fence and his retaining wall is over saturating my soil, the fence post and baseboards. Since the water is now drawing towards my side of the property. If and when we need to replace the fence sooner that should have to be, what action should I take since he doesn’t seem to comprehend that what he has done is probably illegal.

        1. Maldri, I would recommend that you try and sit down with your neighbor and explain to them that the wall they built along with the overwatering is causing the fence to fail prematurely and see if they are willing to make the necessary changes to prevent this from continuing to take place. If they don’t listen, then you can inform them you are monitoring and documenting the issue and when the time comes to replace the fence you will not be paying 50% of the costs due to their actions causing the premature failure. You can state you will fight them in court. Having said this I do not believe what your neighbor has done is in any way illegal and I must warn you should you take this stance and they go about replacing the fence according to the steps necessary in the CA good neighbor law, then you would likely lose in court. This is why I believe it is best in your situation to try and come to an agreement amicably with your neighbor!

  3. My neighbors have large trees, poor maintenance in vegetation that is against our fence. The neighbor also has a pool.

    The fence needs to replace much of it because of the poor maintenance on my neighbors side. Do we still split it in half?

    1. Yes, there are no provisions in the statute to account for one neighbor’s actions, i.e. poor maintenance, or sprinklers hitting the fence, etc., causing damage to the fence, therefore, causing the fence to have to be replaced before it should have with proper care and maintenance. I know this is not exactly fair and therefore a situation like this is best handled by sitting down with your neighbor and trying to have a mature constructive conversation. At the very least, even if your neighbor doesn’t see your side of the issue and still believes both of you should split the costs evenly, hopefully, you can convey the importance of proper care and maintanence for the new fence in the future to prevent another similar issue down the road. Good luck!

      1. Actually, under the law, any maintenance to keep the debris from the trees off the the fence could be billed half to the neighbor. While you really can’t fix the past, what I would do about the future is document the damage caused by the debris (showing the fence areas without trees and debris), and then ask them if they’d like to keep the fence cleaned off monthly, or would they prefer to split the cost of a lawn care service company to come and keep it cleaned off using a leaf blower.

      2. If replacement is needed because of improperly planted bamboo and neglected maintenance of plants causing encroached on our property line and has warped and beoke pickets, posts and rails, is cost still split?

        1. What was the outcome regarding the neighbor’s trees/vegetation ruining your fence? We’re going through a similar situation.

  4. My backyard borders three neighbors (cul de sac), and the fence was in approximately the same (poor) condition across all three. Two neighbors agreed to replace theirs and those are done; one neighbor is fighting it, saying it doesn’t need to be replaced and is demanding a survey be done because they think the fence is entirely on their property and I don’t have the right to touch it, even though the fence is in line with the other two neighbors (and the rest of the block). The quotes I’ve gotten for a survey are from $750 to >$6000 depending on how much work they need to do, well in excess of the cost of replacing that portion of the fence. Can my neighbor legally stop me from replacing the fence until we do a survey? Seems like a stalling tactic to avoid paying for it.

    1. Best to have a survey done. Many legal problems can arise otherwise. However, if the neighborhood has a fence around all properties, it really doesn’t matter much if the fence is 1 foot over on his yard. He has the responsibility to pay for half of a fence between yards. That could mean you document the bad shape of the fence and just build it exactly on the property line, while leaving the bad fence on his property, and then send him a bill for half.

      1. Why would this be true….. the fence is not on the boundary like therefore it is the responsibility of the property owner in which has the entirety of the fence on their property to maintain it as they like. There is no splitting costs here as there is not shared structure

    2. My fence completely encloses my back garden and is a corner lot. The back part of the fence, in the backyard, fell and is neighboring half of the neighbor’s front yard. The fence does not enclose their front yard but is still a neighboring fence. The neighbor does not want to share the cost to fix it, and states it is my sole responsibility. Is this situation an exception?

  5. I had contacted my neighbor twice that we need to get the fence fix. His tenant dog Kill my dog. The fence it’s in a really bad condition. I want to get this done the sooner the better and he has not giving me a response since December 2020. I toll my husband to get if fix with out any response from him. My husband wants to put the planks on our side. Originally the bad planks are on their side and the polls on our property what will be the best to do in this situation.

  6. If a fence falls over and it in-closes his backyard, but not my front yard, other than being on the property line. Who’s responsible?

  7. There’s an easement/driveway between my backyard and my neighbor’s front yard. The property line shows that the easement belongs to my neighbors parcel. Are they responsible for paying for half of the fence that runs along their easement, even if the fence doesn’t border their yard?

  8. What if the adjacent property is an apartment complex? The fence is old and rotted and they have ivy growing on it which has helped to cause it to fall into my yard. I am on disability and cannot afford to even split the cost really. I hope the business property has to clean up and replace it. Do you know?

  9. My neighbor put up a wooded fence 6 inches from the property line on their side of the property. They did not inform us and did ask for us to help pay for the fence. They have the planks on their side and our side has the 2x4s. Our side of the fence with the 2x4s looks ugly and unfinished. My husband nailed planks on the fence to cover the 2x4s. Now the neighbor wants the planks that my husband nailed to be removed. Can we keep the planks and not remove it?

  10. I live in a cul-de-sac and the neighbor on the corner backyard fence backs into my front yard. Their fence does nothing to secure my property. I do not think this qualifies for a “Good neighbor ” fence. Does it?

  11. We are buying land. There is a fence that runs right through our parcel it is aprox. 200′ from either boundary. The fence currently keeps the neighbors (lot to the east) cattle in. We want to remove the fence on our land, so we can access 100% of our land from our entry gate. We intend to remove the fence. We offered to replace it along the Western boundary as a courtesy and allow their cattle to continue to graze on our prospective land. The other lot owners, said they want to erect a fence on the eastern boundary and for us to pay half. We do not want, or have a need for this new fence. It only benefits them. There has never previously had a boundary fence. Are we liable for half of what we don’t want, what didn’t exist, and what only benefits the other party?

  12. My city (Fresno) does not have a code or requirement for the neighbor splitting the cost. They said that would be a civil dispute amongst neighbors. Your article however is stating there is a State law that says otherwise. In this scenario, would the State law trump the city?

  13. Our good neighor fence was damaged when their yard shed became a projectile because it was in bad repair , not anchored to a base . It came thru the fence and nearly thru the fwnce on the OTHER side of my yard . This was not a tornado , ir hurricane , and there was no other wind damage in the neighborhood . What is hus responsibility and should I bear any ? I have video documentation of the damage .

    1. As long as you have proof that your neighbors shed caused all the damage due to being improperly anchored down, then I would not accept any responsibility and pay a dime to make the repairs, instead demand he do so!

  14. I built my house many years ago. There were no fences and the neighborhood kids played freely in the yards from house to house. No fences. Eventually, a neighbor moved and sold their house. The new neighbor had a dog and wished to build a fenced-in yard, the 1st on our side of the street. They asked permission and we acquiesced but chose not to participate in the fencing. That neighbor has since moved and a new owner bought the house as a rental property. The fence has deteriorated and a section has fallen over. We like the open space and look. They want us to pay for 1/2 of the repair. I think it was never our intent to have a fence and continue to advocate for no fence. Would we lose in small claims court?

    1. Thank you for your question James,

      The law becomes a little unclear in instances such as yours but the major factor which is going to decide who is legally responsible is whether or not you have a fence around any part of your yard that is connected to this fence that he wants you to pay half of to replace?

      Here is a short section of the actual law to better explain what I mean by this:

      Boundary fences sit on the boundary line between two properties. Boundary fences, or division fences, must conform to fencing laws established by local ordinances and CC&Rs. Both property owners own the fence erected between the property lines when both use it. Every state interprets “use” differently. There are three main definitions:

      Occupancy: use of the land up to the fence
      “Join” for use: the attachment of another fence to the boundary fence
      Entire enclosure: the property owner’s entire property is enclosed by the attachment of other fencing to the boundary fence
      Most state laws or local ordinances cast responsibility for the maintenance of boundary fences on the owners that use the fence unless an agreement indicates otherwise. The law places responsibility on both parties because both benefit from the fence. Consequently, when a fence needs repair, both property owners must share the cost. If one party refuses to cooperate, the other party can do any of the following:

      The definition regarding “Join for Use” is likely going to be a major factor in deciding who is legally responsible to pay. From the way you have explained it, I would predict you are not going to be responsible whatsoever. (Please confer with a licensed Attorney to confirm as we can only provide information and not legal advice!)

  15. The fence needs to be repair. It seems we can not agree. Can I do half of the fence and they can do half of the fence?

    1. I am not quite sure I fully understand your question. Do your neighbors not agree on fixing the fence, what contractor to use, or the price? I do not see why you wouldn’t be able to do what you’re proposing except for the fact that it could bring along with it a lot of issues. First off, it might end up looking funny as often different fence companies use different grades of wood from different suppliers as well as have their own building techniques which may not match the other contractors. Even more important than that is I believe many contractors would not want to get involved with something such as this due to another company building part of a fence they built, so if there are problems down the road, all of a sudden they might take the blame for another companies poor workmanship. I know personally, I would never get involved with such a situation!

  16. Paying in full and go to court is not a good resolution to this situation. The amount to pay is not a small amount and it can take a long time to collect. this information even though informative it only benefit the contractor.

    1. I understand the price of a redwood fence nowadays, especially since the pandemic, can be very expensive. Yet, I am going to have to disagree with you that this is not a good resolution solely for the fact that there are no other options. Please let everyone know if you have any ideas as to another route to take. Also, I don’t agree that this information only benefits the contractor, IT DOES NOT! It benefits the homeowners as they now have a legal route to take to replace their fences, which obviously is exactly the reason the law was created!

    2. I disagree with you fully due to one small issue, what other way can you go about the situation should your fence need to be replaced immediately and your neighbor refuses to pay. Please let us know what better route there is to take, I am sure all our readers as well as I would love to hear all the other options out there!

      1. My new neighbor just started replacing all his fencing in his backyard. Today I go into my yard to find our shared fence down! I talked to the contractors and they felt bad no notice was given. A new fence is going up tomorrow. There hasn’t been any communication at all from my neighbor
        I would have appreciated knowing in advance as I have dogs. Anyway, can they sue me for 1/2 the cost of this ?
        I didn’t even have the option of getting my own bids or anything. Also, the fence was still in decent shape and we hadn’t planned on replacing soon.

        1. Hi Annie, thanks for the great question! The good news, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Your neighbor did not follow the proper procedure in order to go after you under the CA Good Neighbor Law for half the costs. For the law to be on his side he would have had to give you a 30 day Notice to Alter Shared Boundary. He would have had to get at least 3 bids from reputable companies and presented all these to you. Also, the new fence could not be an unnecessary upgrade from the previous fence. If he followed these steps then he could go after you in court and would likely win. Since from what you’re saying he did none of the above, he has no legal backing to pursue any money from you. If he asks, and you don’t want to pay for any of the fence I would just repeat what I have said here, and that should be the end of it! Good Luck!

  17. So I’m in very different situation from any I’ve read. I want to replace our fence and sent multiple notices to our neighbor south of us. They always ignored them, I eventually thought they just don’t care and I made it clear I’m not looking for any money if they can’t afford it. At the beginning of March I put a notice on there door that we’re replacing the fence with a textured vinyl fence. I told them if we don’t hear from them in 7 days to expect construction in 30 days from the response deadline. Fast forward 30 days the fencing contractor pushes us out to May. We write another notice that construction date has been pushed up to May. Surprisingly I get a txt from the neighbor that he doesn’t approve of the vinyl fence and wants a wooden fence because he feels it makes his house look bad. He insists that he could build his side of the wooden fence and our other side if I split the cost with him. First point I made was that don’t want a wooden fence due to the upkeep of it. Secondly, his dogs have broken through the panels multiple times and bit our dogs twice. I also gave him the link to the brochure from the manufacturer which has multiple darker wooden although they cost 40% more. Now I’m waiting for a response but I’ve already put down a deposit and the contractor seems like a good guy so I’m not completely worried that I can’t get my money back. I just feel like I’m trying to be very diplomatic about this but if the neighbor shoots me down or ignores me again my only thought process is to get a surveyor out here and give me the exact property line. By reading the law it seems like I don’t really need his permission to build the fence due to its condition and previous incidents but I’m trying to keep the peace. The new question that arises is if the fence is directly on the property line or on his side what approach do I take to this? I figure if it’s on mine I have complete control although I will most likely make enemies with my neighbor. Any thoughts not input would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Thank you for your comment/ queston! Your situation is one I have not directly encountered yet, so I will give you my best educated answer, yet please check with a lawyer to be 100% positive.

      Ok here goes… I understand your frustration with your neighbor after stating you would cover all the costs, for him to complain about a vinyl fence. Especially since they are quite a bit more expensive and in theory will last a lifetime. Seems your neighbor would be reaping the rewards with no out of pocket costs for him.

      Having said this I can see where he is coming from, many people are still “on the fence” as to whether they like the look of vinyl fence yet. Personally I don’t think they look as close to real wood as they need to.

      Now as far as the law is concerned although your neighbor is not being a very good neighbor nor is he being very diplomatic, but I believe he still has a right to refuse the vinyl fencing whether or not he is paying a dime. This applies only if the fence is currently directly on the dividing lot line. The neighbor is legally responsible to pay for half the fence but only for a fence of similar design not one that is upgraded or more expensive as in a vinyl fence.

      That being said I believe if you are set on getting a vinyl fence you have two options.

      First is to let the neighbor know if his legal responsibility to pay for half the fence. Then let him know you would be willing to cover 100% of the costs as long as he is willing to switch to a vinyl fence. (I believe you’ve already tried this approach and it failed?)

      The second option is to leave the failing wood fence there and build a vinyl fence a foot or two into your property.

      If you are not completely set and getting a vinyl fence then obviously your option would be to build a new wooden fence of similar quality to your previous one and require the neighbor to pay half the cost which would probably be your best bet in this situation.

      I hope this answers your question somewhat good luck with your neighbor!

  18. Would have to agree with Potential Customer partly. It seems irresponsible to not include other information that might leave you stuck with the bill. Repair vs Replace…due to preference or aesthetic. Note that I dont believe good neighbor fence laws cover someone wanting to upgrade or replace for the heck of it. There better be good reasons other than make my yard look better.

    1. First off, since you say you agree with Potential Customer, please answer the question I have asked them as well. “What other option does a homeowner have if their fence is failing miserably and needs replacement immediately, yet their neighbor refuses to pay a dime?” If there is a better option out there please let all our readers, as well as I, know!

      If you are inferring above that another option would be to repair, then you have missed the actual basis for this article. While repairing is an option sometimes, although we usually do not recommend it, this article is based on the notion that your fence has fully failed, needs replacement immediately, and your neighbor refuses to pay for it. If this sounds similar to your situation then I believe our article can be very helpful.

      You bring up replacement due to aesthetics and upgrading a fence? Your right, the Good Neighbor Law does not cover upgrades or replacing a fence just because it looks bad, yet I will not go into detail regarding this as this information is all clearly stated in the article which you would have known had you fully read it!

  19. I bought my house last year and my neighbors decide to redo their fence . I was barely in escrow when they did fence as soon as I moved in they asked me to pay them 3,000 I told them that was not my responsibility because the house wasn’t mine yet. They told me that as long as I don’t pay then I’m not allowed to touch their wall at all and they were going to take me to small claims for them to collect what I owed them. I Said they should of waited till the house was under my name and I would of helped out. What can I do I’m being harassed

    1. It sounds to me like your new neighbors are bullies and I wouldn’t let them push you around. First off, they cannot tell you not to touch the fence at all, the fence as long as it is on the property line is both your neighbor and your property and therefore you have just as much right to it as they do, whether or not they paid for it. Secondly, I wouldn’t pay them a dime if I were you. Not only did you not own the house when it was replaced, but even if you did, they would have to give you a 30-day notice if you refused to pay half. They would then have the law on their side and if they went through the proper steps outlined above, most likely would win a judgment against you. Yet, since you weren’t even the homeowner at the time of replacement, I would say in my best judgment that they have no legal standing against you. I would send them a letter certified mail with return receipt requested (for proof should you need it down the road) to immediately stop[ all harassment against you, state that you will not be paying them a dime as you were not the homeowner at the time of replacement, and should they wish to take you to court, go ahead! You can also let them know that their best bet at recouping some of the money would be to go after the previous owner of the house. If they do not want to do that then they can eat the costs as they rushed to replace it when they should have waited until they spoke with you, the new homeowner!

  20. The shared good neighbor fence between my yard and the neighbor fell during a storm 3 months ago. We have both got estimates that are similar in price. The neighbor is requesting I pay for all the materials which is half the estimate and she and her handyman friend will do the work. I have offered to help with the labor and split the cost 50/50. She does not want to do it that way. Can she force me to pay for the materials and she do the labor?

    1. Michael, thanks for the question. The answer is a definite “NO” She cannot make up the rules and make you agree to her installing the fence while you pay for all the materials. She has to get three separate estimates and then you two can agree as to which company to go with. If you don’t agree to her doing the job, which I would be very wary of and personally would never allow, then she has no choice but to pay for it all herself or you guys use a different contractor. As I just stated I would be very hesitant to allow her to build the fence for two reasons. First off, does she have the expertise to build a fence like a company that specializes in building fences and provides a warranty, which your not going to get with her? I would imagine it will not be built as well as a professional could do, therefore down the road, it will likely fail much sooner! Secondly, is the fact that she is stating the material are the same costs as the labor; that would be a huge red flag for me. Since the pandemic lumber prices have soared through the roof and while labor and material costs used to be similar, they are no longer. On our average bid, the material costs are nearly 1.5 to 1.75 the costs of labor. Therefore it seems to me she is trying to rip you off!

  21. I have a fence that is in need of replacement. One neighbor is not financially able to split the cost but said he would try and chip in what he could. The other neighbor does not own but rents, so I contacted the rental company and informed them of my wishes to replace the fence. He came and took measurements and then said he would have to contact the homeowner to get approval and that I would have to use their contractor. I informed him that I already have a contractor in place but he was insistent that I use who they subcontract through and ordered me not to proceed any further. I kind of felt backed into a corner and found myself becoming a bit defensive to where I don’t even wanna deal with this representative for the rental company. Any advice on how to proceed or deal with this overbearing representative?

  22. I just had a fence erected between me and my neighbor. I paid for the whole thing and did not ask the neighbor for any help or money. I had the fence erected entirely on my property. On the invoice, the contractor put “good neighbor fence.” Is this considered a good neighbor fence under these circumstances? I’m just wondering if the wording of the invoice would create any sort of legal rights to the neighbor; if so, should I have the contractor change the wording? Thank you.

    1. No, this will not cause any issues whatsoever. The term “good neighbor” just refers to the style of the fence. It refers to a fence that uses sandwich construction, i.e. a picture frame fence since it looks the same from both sides, or when a basic nail-up fence is built with alternating panels, hence both neighbors get equal shares of the bad and good sides.

  23. Hi, can you please explain what your opinion is about when it is “necessary” to replace a wooden fence under the fence law. I have a neighbor that replaced my fence on one side. The neighbor said he gave notice ahead of time but has no proof and I never got any prior notice.

    The fence is old and grey but was being maintained with new planks when needed. Posts were like new pressure treated and totally solid as they had been replaced about 7 years ago. The fence was not leaning and still standing up and was holding up to natural elements such as wind but the neighbor claimed he or his dog could break the planks. So he got one estimate and paid the company and then demanded I pay half. This type of question has not been answered since the fence had NOT fallen over and was being maintained but was just not as pretty or strong as when new and so was replaced. Thanks for any input.

    1. Jim, thank you for the great question. As far as the CA Good Neighbor Law is concerned you ARE NOT liable for half the fence. This is due to your neighbor not following the required steps. There were 3 major mistakes on his part. First off, the biggest one is if everything you say is correct, there was not a valid reason to replace the fence in the first place. Most likely your neighbor did it purely for aesthetic reasons, and that is not a valid reason if he wished to be reimbursed for half the costs down the road. To further answer your question as to what constitutes a valid reason to replace the fence in the first place, the fence must absolutely be beyond repair and failing. In other words, it is no longer capable of serving its intended purpose, i.e. keeping dogs/ children, etc. in the yard, providing security & privacy, etc. Therefore I fully agree with you that your fence was not even close to the point of needing to be replaced.

      The second and third reasons only apply if the fence needed to be replaced in the first place, but I will touch on them anyway. The second reason was the

        CA Good Neighbor Law

      requires a neighbor to get a minimum of 3 estimates and chose from those accordingly based on price, experience, warranty, etc. This prevents a neighbor from getting only 1 bid (maybe a family member) and going with them despite the fact they might have little experience and be charging an exuberant fee. Who knows, if this were allowed to take place a neighbor could hire their cousin let’s say and pay him whatever fee and then later claim the costs were way higher than actually paid in order to make him or his family member/ associate some extra money. Lastly, the neighbor failed to serve the notice to you. Whether you received it or not, if he lacks proof, it will do him no good in court. He should have sent the notice to you 30 days prior to the construction of the fence and should have sent it to you certified mail with the return receipt requested. Therefore he would have had proof that you received a notice and chose to ignore it.

      In summary, I WOULD NOT pay your neighbor a dime, as he not only replaced a fence that didn’t need to be replaced in the first place, but he did not follow the proper steps in order to be able to collect half the costs fro0k you via the courts. Hope this fully answers your question, if you have any further questions please let us know.

  24. 8 years ago I was worried that my dog would get injured by the new neighbors aggressive bulldog so I suggested we put up a new fence, he said sure as long as I replaced with heavy duty commercial chain link with slats (original is a leaning 42 yr old commercial chain link with broken and missing wood slats). He said he could not pay half only $600. I signed a contract and the day before installation neighbor said no, fence could not be removed, so I had to have it installed on my side (plus pay the total $3000). Unfortunately there is a gap of 10 to 12 inches between the fences and all kinds of weeds, bushes and trees are growing inside. The slats are winged vinyl so I have to poison from above and it is becoming too big of a job. Spoke to the neighbor again, told him I want to move the fence to the property line, first he said fine as long as its a block wall, so we got estimates but that was too much, so then he said we could move my fence to the property line, and then yesterday changed his mind again and said do not remove original fence! How do I keep the gap clear or how can I get my neighbor to allow a new fence on the property line (since he has 2 large dogs it can’t come down without his participation)?

  25. I am currently dealing with a neighbor that is refusing to fix our shared fence. She just moved into the neighborhood in December, but the strong winds we had back in January/February left us both with a collapsed fence. She was under the impression that HOA would cover the cost, but after kindly explaining this isn’t the case she has grown more difficult. HOA has tried working with her to explain the responsibility and has even gotten their legal counsel involved. She is still refusing to do her part. I was advised by the HOA board about Cal. Civ. Code § 841, but my fear is that after having a letter certified to her, she will either ignore it or refuse after the 30 days. What happens then? Still proceed to have the fence repaired and then take her to small claims? She is seriously the neighbor of nightmares and this is why people need to understand what it means to live in an HOA community. If you can’t abide by the rules that make the neighborhood clean and what probably attracted you to purchase in the first place, buy elsewhere!

    1. Nat, yes you are correct. Once you get three estimates from reputable companies, present them to her, then decide on a fence contractor, and send your neighbor the 30-day notice. If she fails to respond, you will then go ahead with the construction (just make sure and inform her the days they will be replacing the fence in case she has dogs, etc.) You must then pay the contractor in full. I would then try once more to collect half the costs from your neighbor (although you don’t have to do this) and if she continues to refuse you will proceed with filing the lawsuit. Usually in small claims if it is under the max amount in your state (usually around 10-15k).

      1. I’ve got all my quotes and now guess what.. none of them will agree to the job unless both homeowners consent! So now HOA is advising me to serve her with the 30 days notice and if she still refuses to then take her to small claims to have the judge order her to agree to the fence replacement and payment.

        1. Nat, I am slightly confused…do you mean none of the fence contractors are willing to take on the job without both homeowner’s consent?

          1. Yes, that is correct. It leaves me in this terrible circle. I’m in LA county and spoke with a small claims advisor they said that I could sue for half the cost of the job with quotes, but apparently a judge can’t order for the consent of the job, but I figure at that point if you’ve already had to pay you might as well agree to the fix. Such a bizarre situation, you’d think that any homeowner in their right mind would prefer a fixed fence over one that is collapsed.

  26. Would you please comment on this: After getting the small claims judgement, and the other party still refuses to pay, get the judgement RECORDED, as it then attaches to the property. The property then can neither be sold nor refinanced without paying the outstanding judgement, which accrues interest!

  27. My fence completely encloses my back garden and is a corner lot. The back part of the fence, in the backyard, fell and is neighboring all of the neighbor’s front yard. The fence does not enclose their front yard but is still a neighboring fence. The neighbor does not want to share the cost to fix it, and states it is my sole responsibility. Is this situation an exception?

    1. Cindy, I am sorry to inform you but your neighbor is correct in this situation. The fence is solely your responsibility. This is due to the fact that the fence is not connected to another fence in your neighbor’s yard, therefore enclosing it. Therefore the law states that this fence is not benefitting your neighbor. Therefore you will need to pay 100% of the costs of replacement!

  28. Hello, I bought a house last year and within days neighbor asked me to pay $3500 for the block wall he had built. I stated I was not the owner at the time, but I was willing to pay half. Neighbor does not want half he wants full amount. Neighbor has constantly harassers me constantly if he sees something touching his fence. He said he will take me to small claims if I do not pay him. Neighbor also charged me for dirtying his vehicles while i was cleaning my front yard. He charge me $80 that I paid him because I am tired of being harrassed. Is there anything I can do to stop neighbors from bullying me? I am a single mother, this is my 1st home and I just cant afford $3500. I wasn’t even the owner when he decided to build the block fence. There was nothing wrong with previous wood fence it had while home was in escrow.

    1. I am very sorry to hear about your situation. First off, please whatever you do, do not pay this man a dime. You are not responsible for any of the costs whatsoever and therefore you should not pay half much less the full costs, which I have no idea how this neighbor believes this to be fair. As far as the charging you for cleaning costs, etc. again please do not pay him a dime. The neighbor is bullying you in order to make money off you. You need to stand your ground, tell him you will not be paying for any of the costs of the wall, or anything else for that matter. You need to tell him he is harrasing you and you will not stand for it. If he continues to do so anyway, call the cops. If it comes down to it you might need to get a restraining order against him.

      The other option is to get a man you know that is bigger and meaner than him, maybe a brother, friend, cousin, to go confront him and tell him he needs to leave you alone or they will be coming back to pay him another visit. I wish I could help you, if you live around the Concord, CA. area let me know and I’ll go talk to him!

  29. We had a fence completely enclosing our backyard, with the back fence wall bordering 3 townhouses yards. The back line of our fence lined up with all the adjacent neighbors’ fences who also border these townhouses in that development. Apparently our fence was in bad shape, and the townhouses owners wanted it removed because they thought it was ugly. Only one of them communicated this to us. We could not afford to replace it so we said we did not want it removed, as it was enclosing our property. This morning we came to see that the townhouses HOA just took it upon themselves to remove the back wall so now we no longer have a back fence wall! How is this even possible? They claim they sent us a letter with some sort of ultimatum, but we never received any letter. Shouldn’t they have to replace the fence since they removed it?

  30. My neighbor just bought the house next to my rental and moved in and want to put up a new fence to replace the existing one. She insists I pay half of the new fence. I am willing to pay for fixing the fence as needed but it does not need to be replaced with a new fence. It’s an aesthetic preference that she wants a brand new fence. Can she insist on a new fence and I have to pay for half? I am willing to fix it but she wants a new fence.

  31. We live on a hillside, so our backyard is 3 stories down. Our neighbor just built a fence on the property line without any discussion with us that separates our 2 lower side yards, so we now have no access to the area under our side stairs. We need to have some stucco repair to the side of our house in that area and would like to be able to get in there periodically to weed, etc. We asked if we could pay for a gate to be put into the fence at our cost so we could have access to the area. They have refused, saying that that don’t want us to have free access to their property-we would literally only have to take 4-5 steps on their property to get to our our property under the stairs. They said that they would give us permission when we asked, to enter their backyard by their stairs on the other side of their house, which would then involve us or workers to have to cross their whole backyard, which is an artificial grass putting green! Shouldn’t we have a right to easily access our own property?

  32. Hello, My neighbor installed a 6 foot rod iron fence with brick pillars which is about 3 to 4 inches on my property The fence is only about 15 feet long and was installed years ago. I never paid any attention to it until he but he recently attached a 3 foot rod iron fence to extend the fence to the sidewalk in which he put on his property. Now there are two fences that not only a too totally different styles but heights. Which has become an eyesore. I mentioned it to my neighbor and he does not see anything wrong with the two fences. I know I can’t remove the 3 foot rod iron fence because it is totally on his property but can I remove the 6 foot fence that is on my property? that would force him to install another 3 foot rod iron fence on his property.

  33. Right now, we have a block wall fence between my neighbor’s house and ours. Our neighbor wants to replace the fence with vinyl fence. But we do not like the look of vinyl fence. We would rather have a wooden fence if the existing block wall cannot be fixed or strengthened. But, our neighbor says that vinyl fence is the cheapest. Do we have to go along with my neighbor’s choice because they can prove that vinyl fence is cheapest with written estimate. If we cannot agree, can we each build our own choice of fence? They have their vinyl fence and we have our wooden fence (though not economically sound).

  34. We are planning on filling our in-ground pool and need a shared fence temporarily removed to allow for pool demolition equipment to enter the backyard. We’ve contacted our neighbor to alert him of the project but he refuses to have the fence removed. We can’t move forward with the project without the fence removed. What can we do?

  35. My neighbor replaced our old Good neighbor fence. We were both in agreement to pay half each. Our properties backup to a small slope. Redwood trees at top of slope in his his corner hides the fencing in this area. He set the first two panels on the slope with good side facing him. He did not cut the wood to fit the slope setting the first panel adjacent to backyard neighbor fence up off the ground, leaving a large, hollowed out, open area in the slope on my side which now will cause erosion, and I believe failure of the fence when winter comes. Also a small child or animal could possibly get into his yard and get in his pool. He also damaged a small two foot retaining wall that serves in that corner of my yard as a decorative feature as well as a way to halt erosion. Do I have to pay for this to be fixed? Am I still responsible for half? The panel sits at about 8-9 ft off the ground. Maybe higher.
    Thank you,
    Shirley Jean

  36. Our situation is somewhat different then what I have yet read. Our backyard back fence ( about 100 feet long) had a wooden fence built on our property. Our neighbors property has their front yard side fence built on their property, parallel to our fence, about 16 inches from our fence along the entire way. Without consulting us they decided to remove their fence and replace it with a six foot vinyl fence. (on their property) We were never asked to pay for any of it. The sides of our yard are 6′ white vinyl. They put up white posts and rails, tan slats. However our back fence was not vinyl, but an older wooden fence, in some need of repair. ( However in our mind that project was 2 to 3 years away as we were already spending more on other priority projects) I noticed this work going on on the last day the contractor was finishing up. He offered to remove our old wooden fence for $600.00. I said great, but I would throw the neighbors a bone and, as a curtsey, pay them something. ( I had 300 to 500 in mind) He mentioned that was very nice and most neighbors would not do this. He was not able to remove our fence othe next day, but was able, last minute to come three days later when we were out of town for the day. He came and did the job. The next day, while I was gone, the neighbor came to my wife very agitated and critical, saying, how inconsiderate this was for us to do, how could we, and it was his fence and we were using it and “encroaching on his property. Remember he…
    Never consulted us. Never asked for financial help. Never gave us the opportunity to make a selection that matched our existing fence. Never allowed us to consider disparate bids. And approached us in an aggressive and very critical manner.

    Are we under any legal obligation to pay him a penny? I would still consider paying him a curtsey fee, yet am certainly less inclined to do so now.

    All the best.

  37. I have a shared fence with my neighbor and we plan to share the cost of the fence equally. However, it was brought to my attention that the retaining wall the fence is on is failing and will need to be replaced before the fence can go up. Does this mean both neighbors are responsible for the cost of the retaining wall as well?

    1. Melissa, very good question. It gets a little complicated when it comes to retaining walls. Before I can answer your question as to who would be responsible for the retaining wall I need to know the following information:

      -Whose property if higher up, i.e. whose property is the retaining wall actually retaining?
      -Was the wall there from the very beginning when the houses were built or is it because of some type of new construction?
      -Was the retaining wall initially required because the lower neighbor graded their property and therefore it was their responsibility to provide support to the uphill neighbor whose natural support they cut away during the grading and leveling of the property. Or is it apparent the uphill neighbor backfilled their property for one reason or another which created the need for the wall?
      -Lastly, and I believe the answer is yes to this but is the retaining wall on the boundary line separating you from your neighbors’ property?

      I know this sounds very complicated and it is, so please try and answer the questions to the best of your ability!

  38. There is a brick wall between me and my neighbor. The wall is leaning significantly toward my property and I am afraid it could fall. My relationship with this neighbor is not good. I’m confident if I contracted any work on the wall he would not allow workers on his property. What recourse do I have? I am very concerned the wall could fall.

  39. I don’t think I see this covered: I share a fence with a neighbor, and they have six 2-story-tall trees (overgrown weeds, really) growing tightly next to each other, just on their side of the fence. They’re so close that the trunks of the trees have pushed against the lower fence rail and caused the fence to separate from one of the posts and lean into my yard. against one of my trees. Two questions:
    1. If the failure is due to encroachment by my neighbor’s trees, should they bear the full cost?
    2. If they bear the cost, it’s probably not my business; but if we share the cost, is it reasonable for me to ask my neighbor to remove the trees before repairing (or replacing) the fence?

  40. Hi – we live in a resort area and our neighbor who does not live full time at his home, wants a fence between our yards to keep his dog in, privacy, etc.

    He’s going forward with it and we will get the framed side.

    What options do I have? We can’t afford the cost for the fence that he wants…($14k). Will we need to pay?

    Is it his right to put the framed side facing us? If so, can I put up planks on my side, once it’s built?

    Thanks

  41. My neighbor fence between the driveways in California needs to be replaced from wind damage last December. I reported to my insurance and they paid for half the replacement cost. The neighbor verbally agreed to this via texts and I sent quotes via texts. He does not live in the area. Then he said he would come up and build the fence and also move my gate for which I would pay him for and 1/2 the neighbor fence. He has not responded to my texts since May as to when he will replace the fence. Then his brother who lives in the house said he would do it and never provided quotes. My last correspondence by text with the homeower who lives out of the area is if you want it done now you can do that and pay for it all yourself. I contracted with a contractor to do the job this month and let the brother know 2 months ago I did this because he never responded with a quote and I can finance the fence with the contractor and the homeowner is not responding. Today the homeowner is tearing down a portion of the fence and replacing it with no notice and said he is not replacing the whole fence as we agreed nor my gate. He was not nice when I went out to talk to him about it. At this point I don’t care about the money but he keeps saying he paid for the last 3 fences which is not true. I had not notified him yet of the contractor doing the job as it just got scheduled. It is less than 30 days out should I still provide him with a notice to do the work only and not seek payment? I will have to replace the rest of the fence to install the gate since I am moving it. I appreciate your advice. Thanks!

    1. I would definitely go ahead with the notice to alter shared boundary as soon as possible giving the neighbor as much time as possible before construction commences. Then once the fence is finished you can go after him for half the costs minus any extra work that was solely for your benefit (the gate). Also, I think you lucked out not having your neighbor or his family members build the fence themselves, they sound like a bunch of flakes. At the very least they are very cheap, which would mean an inferior crappy fence that isn’t going to last as long as it should!

    1. Thank you, we try and post informative blog articles as much as we can but with the workload lately, sometimes it just isn’t possible. Having said that if there are any specific questions or subject matter you would like to see some posts regarding, please let us know!

  42. I share a fence that is 75’ long with a neighbor. We both want to replace it. Only 43’ of that fence serves me, and then my gate encloses my yard. My gate is set back from the street more than my neighbor’s. 32’ of additional fence along the property line serves the neighbor alone as his gate is closer to the front of his house. That 32’ of fence is behind a large hedge and is not even visible from my property. Am I responsible for half of 75’ of fence on the property line, or only half of 43’ of fence that serves me?

  43. I have owned my house since it was built, in the early ’70s. The whole development had to hire their own landscapers to do their front yards. Our nextdoor neighbor decided to incorporate a 3 ft decorative fence, in the style of their landscaping, which had an Asian flair. This was attached to the existing sideyard fence that was part of the development’s construction. We had no say in the decorative fence. It just appeared one day. We did not like it. It clashed with the style of our house. We didn’t do anything about it, as we didn’t want to cause problems in our first year here. During these early years, most of the neighborhood had children. Any time children, especially my own, sat on the fence, the homeowner would yell “get off my fence”. It was always referred to as their fence, and nobody else could touch it. Fine. To keep the peace, we planted shrubs that created a barrier between our lawn and THEIR fence, so nobody can get to their fence from our side. Eventually, we could no longer see the fence from our side. We just accepted that it was their fence, since we didn’t approve it to be on the property line or attached to the main sideyard fence, and we were forbidden to touch it. But over the years, their sprinklers, trees planted too close and their own children caused the fence to be constantly in a state of disrepair. They replaced it a couple of times, and eventually changed the style to a more traditional looking front yard fence. I still can’t see this fence from my property. It is entirely visible on their side.

    Those people moved out and a new family moved in. I came home from work one day and noticed they had replaced this fence (visible from the street as I passed). The husband came racing over as soon as he saw me drive up to inform me that I owe him $500 for this fence. I told him that this was not my fence, and explained the history. He argued that it was, and that the neighbor on the other side of him gladly paid her portion, and told me that legally, I have to pay. Although I was not informed in advance, not included in the planning, never saw a quote or even a final bill, I felt bullied, and paid him the $500. (Personally, I think we paid for the whole fence for him.) A week later, I came home to find a ‘for sale’ sign in his lawn.

    Anyway, now that I told my story, I want to get your opinion on whether or not I was within my rights (morally and legally), to refuse to pay for a decorative front yard fence that solely compliments his landscape and is not standard in our neighborhood (even though I did end up paying). Also, it would be good to know for the future in case it happens again. The development has remained pretty much the same over the years, and only a handful of people chose to put up decorative front yard fences. Most houses have nothing between them in the front yards other than a concrete mowing strip or plants, if anything.

  44. My neighbor put up a 6ft wood fence 4 inches from the existing 6ft wood fence on their side of the property. The existing fence isn’t bad at all. Still, we would have been happy to go 50/50 on a new fence but they did not inform us and did ask for us to help pay for a new fence. They have the planks on their side and our side has the 2x4s. We’d be up for taking down the existing fence down and adding new planks to our side of the new fence but aren’t sure about it since it’s 4 inches away from the original fence. I wish they would have just talked to us about going in 50/50 on a new fence.

  45. My neighboring fence completely collapsed during a storm. The neighbor has a large tree that pushed against the fence along with an old mattress behind their shed that did not help with the fence integrity. We gave them a written letter explaining that we would be repairing the fence along with their equal responsibility for the cost of repair. We also included a timeline of when we planned on repairing the fence ( that weekend ) and to contact us if there were concerns or wanted to further discuss the cost and/or actions of the repair (included name and number) .We did not give them a 30 day notice however as we have a dog and the fence was completely collapsed (are you suppose to wait 30 days in these situations? what if my dog runs off? what about security/privacy?) They had a 5 day notice from time of the written letter to the fence being repaired. If the neighbors refuse to pay half of the costs for repairing the fence, will we be able to take them to small claims? We saved all receipts from the hardware store.

    1. Yes, the 30 day timeline still applies, but I would have to imagine a judge would take the extenuating circumstances into account. If they refuse to pay for half the costs, then “Yes” you can still take them to small claims court. The only issue that will come into play is the short notice period or your case would be a “slam dunk.”

  46. Our left siding wall base are dropped to the two neighbors’ very end of their backyard. when we started doing the siding work.  The neighbors called and threatened to sue us.  We agreed not to touch their ground, but to build a scaffold around our sidewall, and not touch their ground.  But the neighbors demand our contract is signed with the siding contractor, and demand the contractor’s license and liability and  insurance coverage. We sent the insurance coverage, licenses.  The neighbors stated that we are not allowed to starting the siding job until a agreement drawn by them signed by our contractor, me/owner, and the 2
    neighbors.  Now we are stuck and the cost is adding everyday to put home on market for sale. Also during the raining season, we need to do the roof and siding work asap before the raining season.  Do we owe any liability and responsibility to the neighbors? Do they have the right to force us to sign their agreement to allow our work to start?

    1. Joel I wish I could be of more help but this is a question outside my area of knowledge. We deal solely with fences and decks and not siding, etc. While I understand the question is a general legal question and the contractor area of expertise does not matter, I would still feel more comfortable directing you to a knowledgeable attorney in your area! Good luck!

  47. Neighbor and I share a panel/lattice on top fence for most of our shared fencing. One section however that was falling down was simply wooden boards. I sent a link to a fence I had received an estimate on: This fence was panels with lattice on top from Lowes to replace the falling down fence that was not panels but simply boards but would match the rest of the shared fence. The neighbor got another quote for exactly the same price and I said, ok, we can use your guy. The neighbor sent me the written estimate from the construction person that showed the same price, but did not say panels but said the fence would be built from boards. I did not understand exactly but saw it was the same price and pressure treated, etc. The fence is horrible now because it does not match existing and neighbor says too bad, that I had agreed to the estimate, even though I had sent link to what I wanted. Neighbor won’t negotiate further and wants me to pay half now to a terrible looking mismatch.

    1. Although I know this is now besides the point, I would actually always recommend a custom built fence to the prefabricated fence panels they carry at big box stores. While these panels may look nice on the store shelves, they are made from inferior wood products and generally all the lumber is dimensionally smaller. They are extremely weak and the most a customer should expect from them is a few years life.

      Now in your case it seems that although it was a custom built fence and not prefabricated panels, it was very poorly built and looks terrible? Am I correct? Well, I wish I could give you better advice but the matter is in your neighbors hands. It is very good you haven’t paid anything for it yet. Do not do so! If you are not satisfied with the final product or it isn’t what you had agreed upon prior to it being built, then you should not pay! The neighbor and his fence company will then need to do what any reputable company would do and fix it to make sure both adjoining neighbors are 100% satisfied with the final fence.

      That or they will have to take it to small claims court where you will then be able to plead your side and hopefully you have kept pictures, notes, correspondence between you and neighbor as all this will be very important to your court case. Then it will be for a judge to decide the matter!

  48. Some years back, with consent from the prior owner of the neighboring house, my husband paid for and built a fence in our FRONT yard between our driveway and neighbors side yard for growing plants on (decorative). The fence boards (“good side”) all face our property, the framing is all on their side. The fence is about 6″ inside our side of the property line and is about 15 feet long, extending from our backyard gate towards the front yard/street. It does not extend the full length of the front yard (only about 15 feet of 45 or so). It does not enclose anything but does offer some privacy to us in our driveway and kitchen and to their front yard facing bedroom window.
    Who’s fence is it and do we have the freedom to modify it or remove it without permission from the neighbors?

  49. Hi RC fencing! You sound very knowledgable, friendly, and it sure looks like you build some top notch fencing.
    Thanks for any time you spend reading about my situation.
    So, like many, I have a real A-hole neighbor! When I first moved in, he wanted to replace the current side yard fence, he played friendly for a bit, and so we split the cost 50/50. However, the fence installed has a deep setback, meaning half our lot’s side yard has new fencing, and the other half has no fencing at all (dont think it ever did). This means he has direct line of sight into my entire front yard, and we can walk into each others side yards if feeling entitled.
    I have now recently discovered he placed video surveillance pointed /monitoring my front yard. This guy is very unstable and recently called the cops on me for vandalizing his toyota camary because my sprinkler popped and (lightly) sprayed his car’s passenger side, which he berated me for. He of course parks this car not in front of his house, but instead in front of my house, which he’s done for over a year and I never cared or said a peep about it. But calling the cops on me for a one time incident has changed my care free attitude.
    I will now finish the fence, pay 100%, block his view of my yard, and recapture my privacy.
    My question – how do I attach/extend to the existing fence (which the neighbor project managed/paid in his name)? Or, do I need to move the fence towards my house a few inches, and be solely on my own property line?
    Im thinking giving up a few inches just to be sure he has not a single leg to stand on might be best. This neighbor is neither very smart or kind, and I just want to be prepared for when he goes apoplectic once a fence is installed, as well as collecting half $$ once he decides to modify what will then be “his side”.
    What i am doing after reading your site’s info:
    3 quotes
    Certified letter of intent
    Pics and docs of the current properties fencing
    No work until 30days after certified letter

    Thanks for any additional advise.

    -brian

    1. Brian, sounds like you have it pretty much figured out. sorry for the crappy neighbor, you’d be surprised how common this really is! As far as extending the fence, as long as it was built on the boundary line between your two properties, I do not see why you couldn’t continue the fence off the post where he ended the one he built. I hope I am understanding your question here correctly?? Good luck with the whole situation and please come back and let us know how everything turned out once the ordeal is over!

  50. I have a 5 acre property with no HOA or perimiter fence requirements. One side of my fence is 630ft of that side 220ft of the fence are a neighbors backyard privacy fence that the builder put in. The other 400ft i f that line of fence is livestock open space fencing. The wood fence is failing and needs repair or replace but we have zero need for that privacy fence meeting their HOA requirements. Our back yard is 150 ft from the property perimeter and we maintain a privacy fence on it for our yard. Does this remove us from mutual benefit responsibilities and paying half of the replacement?

  51. Our backyard neighbors don’t trim their trees (70 feet high) or their shrubs and now a few sections of the fence are leaning in our backyard due to the foliage pushing against and through the fence. The fence is over 25 years old and the entire fence could stand to be replaced. I sent the neighbors a demand letter as they would not answer the door to us for several months of trying (nearly a dozen times). I told them they need to trim back their trees and shrubs and that I would be getting estimates to repair the fence and take them to small claims court. I gave them 15 days to accomplish this and also gave my phone number. It’s been about two months now and I have not heard from them and they have not trimmed their trees/bushes. Am I supposed to send another certified letter with the bids on replacing the fence and give them a demand again or just go to small claims court and ask the judge to rule that they need to split the cost on fixing the fence?

  52. My neighbors want the fence between our houses done. It is not something that NEEDS to be done. Except on the front portion which is in my front yard. It blocks NOTHING in only on their side, which is why they want it done. The rest of the fence between our backyards is fine. I have 2 concerns, would we need to pay for the sections that don’t enclose our backyard? The quote he gave us is for a gate on his side as well, which I don’t think we should be held responsible for. I don’t want to get taken to court over this, but my other concern is I am struggling as is, and can no way afford to give our neighbors $3,000 for a fence. What should I do? Thank you!

    1. I am a little confused as to your question. Are you trying to say the fence will be in the front yard and therefore is not necessary or does it extend from the backyard all the way through to the front. Also was there a fence there before that is falling apart. I am sorry I am reading this over and I think I understand your question. First off, if there was no fence there already you shouldn’t have to pay anything, especially if it will not finish enclosing your yard giving you that security benefit. If there was and the fence is being replaced you would ONLY HAVE TO PAY for the sections that run along your property line and absolutely nothing else. I have no idea where your neighbor is getting his information from but it sounds to me like he is trying to take you guys to the cleaners, please whatever you do don’t let him do that! Fight it until the very end! The judge will side with you; you are in the right in this case!

  53. I have a shared fence with my neighbor and we plan to share the cost of a new fence equally since it collapsed with strong winds a few months ago.

    Our property is the lower one and theirs is the higher one.

    We have a plant bed with a little two inch wooden retaining wall on our property to keep the soil in place.

    We never had any retaining concrete wall, just the fence besides our plant bed that separates the two properties. However they want to put a new retaining concrete wall and then put the fence on top. Does this mean both neighbors are responsible for the cost of the retaining concrete wall as well?

  54. This has been on going for 3 years. Next door landlord(just purchased the land) approach me daughter of owner of the house & ask to sloppy cost on shared fence that was very water damaged. We agreed. But did not want to go through our contractors. State they didn’t have insurance policies he wanted. We are bought material and begun our construction on the 3 other sides( in progress before he approached me). He then complained about us buying expenseive material (6ft red wood) and did not want to spend that. I understood and said whatever wood you do your fence we can get. He then ghosted me, my mother. And her contractor for one year. Claiming to only want to speak to said contractor or my brother( union famer but didn’t live here) not me or my mother. He then re does his 3 sides but not our shared said nor buy material for it or even ask us to go half for the cheaper material. The fence falls after he rent it out to another family who as well as me has 3 large dogs. All dogs get out. I call upset that he has been pettt by ignoring not just me and my mother but the 2 contractors we tired to hire for this shared fence. After I threaten to take him to a small claims court. He agrees to go half on the material (over the phone) it’s done and now he not telling me when or how he can pay me. I text him to have proof and he calls me to answer do I have no write that he agree to go half. I’m 21 year old I have put a little more then 1,400 in this fence (redwood) I told him 800+ was material we can go half on that. I have no contract with the men who put up my fence since there both Nccrc union works who pick this up as a side job. Fence it up and intact. Can I still take him to court. Or can I break down the fence that only covers his backyard ( since his property line goes passed mine in the back yard) because if I’m not getting paid for that extra 18-15ft can I re use the wood for a gate on my property

    1. Although you didn’t follow the steps necessary under the CA Good Neighbor Law, if it were me I would go ahead and take him to small claims court. As long as you have some proof of everything your telling me (i.e. text messages, etc.) then more than likely a judge is going to side with you. In fact once you file the small claims suit and he is served most people will end up paying then because they dont want the hassle of going to court and they realize they will likely lose anyway. Also if you file a small claims suit you can go after him for all your time you spent going after him for the money like the time it took you to go to the courthouse, etc. Once your neighbor sees that you are suing him for considerably more than half the cost of the fence that you initially requested he will likely want to pay you the initial amount immediately.

      As far as tearing down part of his fence. If it is on your property and you are sure of it (please make 100% sure) then yes you can go ahead and do whatever you want with it, such as tear it down. Hope this helps, let me know if you have any more questions!

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