Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

I am senior citizen who has live in my property for 40 years. My new neighbor refuses to communicate with me and wants to build a fence on the property line.

Unilaterally, she wants to build it without my consent. I understand if she builds it, and if I don't object, I will be responsible for 50% of the cost.

If she builds the fence on the property line, can hire someone to take it down? Would that be considered vandalism 1) if the fence is on the property line, or what if the fence ends up on my property? I have a land survey done.

Thank you

Asked on 7/13/13, 3:24 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

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

Your neighbor can build a boundary fence, but it should be either exactly on the line, or better still, 1/4 inch inside her property. Actually, if it were in some places, by chance, 1/4 inch into your property, a court isn't going to be too sympathetic with you nor too critical of her.

As for sharing the cost, you DON'T have to share in either the construction cost nor the maintenance cost UNLESS you "inclose" your entire property with fence, or some combination of fence, buildings, hedges, etc. See California Civil Code section 841. (This further presumes that there are no local ordinances or CC&Rs;regarding fences).

You shouldn't hire someone to remove the fence, nor do it yourself, whether it is exactly on the line or encroaching a little. There is a limited right of self-help for trespass, but removing a neighbor's fence for being a little over the property line is more than the law would find acceptable. I'd think it's far safer to go to court and get a court order.

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Answered on 7/13/13, 10:50 pm

Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

I'm more blunt than Mr Whipple.

1. The man can build the fence on the line without your consent, as long as it complies with building code for your area, but you have no duty to pay for any part of it unless you agree to do so.

2. If you tear down or damage the new fence, expect to be sued, and possible arrested.

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Answered on 7/15/13, 12:49 am
Anthony Roach Law Office of Anthony A. Roach

I do agree with the previous attorneys' responses. You would have to agree to the property being built on the property line, which would be a common boundary. Many people build fences for a variety of reasons, but usually when they refer to their fence, it is built entirely on their property. If the fence is built on your property, without your consent, then lawyers refer to it as an "encroachment."

I think you may want to draft a letter to your neighbor pointing out that you object to her building her fence on any portion of your property. This letter could point out that she can build a fence on her property, but you are not going to be responsible for the costs.

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Answered on 7/18/13, 1:42 pm

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