Adjoining Owners are Equally Responsible for Shared Fences and Fences Between NeighborsBoundaries
Adjoining landowners, with properties contiguous or in contact with each another, must share equally the responsibility for maintaining boundaries and monuments between them. Adjoining landowners are presumed to share an equal benefit from any fence dividing their properties, and unless otherwise agreed in writing, are presumed to be equally responsible for the reasonable costs of construction, maintenance, or necessary replacement of the fence.
A landowner must give each affected adjoining landowner a 30-day prior written notice of any intent to incur costs for a division fence.
The notice of intent must include the following:
(1) a notice of the presumption of equal responsibility for the reasonable costs of construction, maintenance, or necessary replacement of the fence.
(2) a description of the nature of the problem with the shared fence.
(3) the proposed solution for the problem.
(4) the estimated construction or maintenance costs to address the problem.
(5) the proposed cost sharing approach.
(6) the proposed timeline for addressing the problem. An adjoining landowner can overcome the presumption mentioned by demonstrating by a preponderance of the evidence that imposing equal responsibility would be unjust.
To determine whether equal responsibility for the reasonable costs would be unjust, a court will consider the following:
(1) whether the financial burden on one landowner is substantially disproportionate to the benefit conferred upon that landowner by the fence.
(2) whether the cost of the fence would exceed the difference in the value of the property before and after its installation.
(3) whether the financial burden to one landlord would impose an undue financial hardship given that party’s financial circumstances as demonstrated by reasonable proof.
(4) the reasonableness of a particular construction or maintenance project, including the extent to which the costs appear to be unnecessary, excessive, or the result of one landowner’s personal aesthetic, architectural, or other preferences.
(5) any other equitable factors appropriate under the circumstances. This law does not apply to a city, county, political subdivision, public body, or public agency. Existing law enacted in 1872 which requires a homeowner who fully encloses a property to refund a neighbor a just proportion of the value of a division fence has been repealed.
- Assembly Bill 1404 (codified as Cal. Civil Code § 841) (effective January 1, 2014).
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