Building a fence on a property line can cause unique problems with your neighbor. Fortunately, you can avoid potential disputes or take cautionary steps to be sure you remain compliant by understanding and following the basic fencing laws in California.
California law limits the height of a fence in residential areas to around 4 feet in the front yard and 6 feet in the backyard. If your properties are on sloping land, the height limitation may vary at different points along the fence line.
If you need a taller fence, you’ll have to get a permit from the local building code office. The permit may require you to provide a detailed drawing of the fence, including height and location on the property.
Paying for the fence on the property line
California Civil Code 841 requires that adjoining landowners share the cost of constructing a dividing fence on a property line. If you and your neighbor disagree on who will pay for the fence and how much each has to pay, either of your can take legal action in court.
The type of material used for the fence may be subject to local zoning regulations or homeowners’ association rules. Typically, most residential areas allow fences made with wood or vinyl. However, some cities have banned using certain types of fencing material like barbed wire and electric fences (Ca. Civ. Code Sec. 835).
Maintaining the fence
A fence on the boundary line is the responsibility of both adjoining property owners. This means that you and the neighbor must repair any damage to the fence if it falls into disrepair. Land use litigation can arise if the fence is encroaching onto the other owner’s property.
If you and your neighbor are having disagreements about the fence, the best way to handle it is to talk it out and devise resolutions that work best for both parties. If that doesn’t work, mediation with a professional mediator is another option to help resolve the dispute. If all fail, consider a small claims court in your county.