When you think of your home, one of the last things you probably think about is a fence.
Whether it be in the back or front yard, your fence helps keep your pets inside the yard and help prevent trespassing.
Though if you have been living in your home for some time, maybe your fence is starting to fall apart. With factors such as rain, snow and time causing damage to your fence, it may be time to replace, but if you share a fence with a neighbor, who is ultimately responsible for repairs?
As it would probably be expected, the responsibility ultimately falls on you and your neighbor. According to California Law under Civil Code 841, otherwise known as the Good Neighbor Fence Act of 2013, “Adjoining landowners shall share equally in the responsibility for maintaining the boundaries and monuments between them.” Simply put in this case, “monuments” can mean a fence.
The code goes on to say that adjoining landowners, “Are presumed to share an equal benefit from any fence dividing their properties and, unless otherwise agreed to by the parties in a written agreement, shall be presumed to be equally responsible for the reasonable costs of construction, maintenance, or necessary replacement of the fence.”
But keep in mind, the assumption that equal pay between you and your neighbor is not definite.
If you are intending to get the fence repaired, the code states, “The landowner shall give 30 days’ prior written notice to each adjoining landowner.” In that notice, there must be notification of equal costs for construction, maintenance or necessary replacement of the fence.
This ruling can also be changed if the financial burden of one landowner is substantially excessive. Changes can also be made if the costs for repair and replacement is more than the value added to the property. The ruling can also be overturned if one neighbor would be given financial hardship due to repairs, though reasonable proof must be made.
If landowners can’t come to an agreement, other deals or arbitration can be made, or the case can be taken to small claims court.
Another factor to consider is to see if your homeowner’s association can help with the cost of repairs for a fence.
Remember to keep in mind that each association is different and has a different set of rules, so be sure to check with your HOA to see if they are responsible for the repair of the fence.