Isn’t Fall a wonderful time of year? The trees turn all kinds of lovely colors; sweaters come out of hiding; the smell of a wood burning fireplace wafts throughout the neighborhood.  So, OK, we get an occasional rain storm. And, sure, every now and then a fence that was rotting away gets blown over.  So?  You were thinking to fix that fence anyway … right?  And when you knock on your neighbors door to ask them to chip in?  SLAM goes the door in your face.  What’s that thing about good neighbors and good fences?  Can you go ahead and fix it anyway; and send the neighbor a bill for half?

The history of disputes relating to “neighbor fences” or “boundary fences” is a long and tortured one. California’s Civil Code § 841 relates to boundary fences and monuments, and goes back to 1872. (A new section which replaced it is known as the “Good Neighbor Fence Act of 2013”.)

In essence, it calls for two adjoining landowners to ‘get along’ and figure it out between themselves, and to split the cost of fixing or replacing. The guts of the statute say that “Where a landowner intends to incur costs for a fence described in paragraph (1), the landowner shall give 30 days’ prior written notice to each affected adjoining landowner. The notice shall include notification of the presumption of equal responsibility for the reasonable costs of construction, maintenance, or necessary replacement of the fence. The notice shall include a description of the nature of the problem facing the shared fence, the proposed solution for addressing the problem, the estimated construction or maintenance costs involved to address the problem, the proposed cost sharing approach, and the proposed timeline for getting the problem addressed.”

Then there are all the ‘what if’s’ and what nots and exceptions to the Rules that you’d expect from any statute.

And, if it gets really ugly, you can always sue the neighbor (likely in small claims court where the damages are capped to $10,000) and get a judgment against them for their share.