Legal Question in Intellectual Property in California

My house is 31 years old and the backyard fence needs to be replaced because it's falling apart. I live within city limits. None of my backyard neighbors want to cooperate financially for the replacement of it because they say they have no money. I am willing to do all the work by myself, but I don't think it's fair that I pay for it entirely while they also get a new fence. What can I do to make them pay for their part? Thank you so much for your help.

Asked on 5/23/13, 4:44 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

California's 19th-Century state law on a neighbor's duty to participate in fence maintenance costs is based on the outmoded concept that fences are to keep livestock in, or keep them out, depending upon whether you have cows or a cornfield. A neighbor has a duty to share the costs of fence construction and maintenance only if he fully encloses his own land (with fence, buildings, hedges or the equivalent). Otherwise, it's up to the guy who wants the fence to pay the whole cost. See Civil Code section 841(2) (and appellate decisions interpreting it). So, you may be stuck with the full bill unless your neighbor encloses his property or there is a local ordinance that requires cost-sharing for boundary fences.

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Answered on 5/23/13, 5:03 pm

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