Good fences make good neighbors: this law sets forth new rules for the construction, upkeep and replacement of boundary fences.

California Civil Code §841
Added and amended by A.B. No. 1404
Effective date: January 1, 2014

Private owners of adjoining properties are presumed to benefit equally from boundary fences. Under this presumption, all adjoining owners are equally responsible for constructing, maintaining and replacing boundary fences.

The responsibility for constructing, maintaining or replacing boundary fences may be altered or removed only by:

  • a written agreement between all affected owners; or
  • an adjoining owner’s judicial petition to remove or alter their responsibility.

Upon an owner’s petition, factors considered when determining an owner’s responsibility for a boundary fence include:

  • whether the boundary fence presents a financial burden disproportionate to the owner’s benefit;
  • the cost of the construction, maintenance or replacement in relation to the value added to the owner’s property;
  • whether financial responsibility for the boundary fence imposes unjustifiable financial hardship;
  • the reasonableness of the construction, maintenance or replacement; and
  • any other unequal impact the construction, maintenance or replacement of the boundary fence may have on the owner.

If more than one owner is responsible for a boundary fence, the owner who plans to construct, replace or maintain the fence is to provide a 30-day written notice to each affected adjoining owner. The notice is to include:

  • a notification of the presumption of equal responsibility for the boundary fence;
  • the problem to be addressed;
  • the proposed solution;
  • estimated costs;
  • the proposed division of costs; and
  • the proposed timeline to address the problem.