Are my neighbors legally obligated to help pay for the fence that is failing between our homes? If they refuse, what are my legal rights?
2 Answers from Attorneys
Probably not. Due to California's ancient (1872) statute on this subject, that assumes people with fences are either trying to keep livestock in because they raise livestock, or keep livestock out because they raise crops, the obligation to pay for building and maintaining boundary fences between neighbors depends upon whether the neighbor to be charged "incloses" (to use the 1872 spelling) his entire parcel, or not. If he incloses it completely, he must share the costs; if not, he pays nothing. See Civil Code section 841. More recent cases interpreting and applying CC 841 allow buildings and hedges, etc. that serve the function of fences to count towards completing an otherwise-incomplete inclosure, but otherwise, the old law stands. In addition, you should check to see whether your community has any local ordinances or even CC&Rs;that may supplement the statewide law in your particular situation.
It depends on whose fence it is. If you or your predecessor built the fence on your property, it is your fence and you have the responsibility to pay for it when it collapses.