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Fence Laws in California: What You Need To Know

No matter where you reside, your neighbors could make all of the difference. Good neighbors are price their weight in gold, and truly are a blessing, while churlish, belligerent neighbors could make your life a living hell with virtually no way out.

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flag of California

If you’re coping with considered one of the latter neighbors, your best bet is frequently only a put up a fence around your property as a buffer.

But if you happen to live in California, that may make the issue worse! In California, neighbors who share a property line, most generally agree and likewise contribute financially to the installation of any given fence and likewise the maintenance of that fence.

If you already don’t see eye to eye together with your neighbors, this may make the entire affair agonizing.

There’s lots you’ll need to know before you even consider in search of quotes in California, so keep reading and I’ll inform you about them.

Under What Conditions are Fences Mandatory in California?

Fences in California are only really mandatory (for many residents) under two conditions, or potentially two and a half but we’ll get to that half in only a minute.

The first instance is if you happen to own any pool that’s greater than 18 inches deep. Any such pool, be it above or below ground, will need to have a fence built around it that features a gate or door with a self closing and self latching mechanism.

The fence have to be no less than 60 inches high with no gaps in any respect that may allow a small child to enter it or climb over it.

There are other specifications as well regarding the construction aspects of the fence depending on the form of material that it’s made out of.

The other instance is that if someone owns livestock. Livestock owners are solely accountable for keeping their livestock contained safely and securely on their very own property, and this naturally entails the usage of fencing in almost each instance.

Then, that half instance I discussed up above, is in case you share a property boundary line with a neighbor and your neighbor decides to place up a fence.

You is likely to be accountable for contributing to the prices of installation and maintenance of the fence.

There are ways to avoid this, in fact, nevertheless it generally depends upon proving that you’ll get no use or profit from the fence, or that you just are currently under a financial hardship that may make installation or maintenance of the fence unattainable.

So, in case your neighbor wants a fence, now you’ll have a fence, too, and be accountable for it to a level!

Can Your Neighbor Force You to Build or Pay for a Fence in California?

Yes. The basis of California fencing law rests on the presumption that adjoining property owners are equally accountable for any reasonable costs related to the installation, maintenance, repair or substitute of boundary fences.

While it’s unlikely that your neighbor could force you to pay for the whole lot of the fence, in case your neighbor wants a fence you’re now going to be on the hook for it as described above.

But there’s a process for this in California, what’s it typically known as the Good Neighbor Fence Law.

Under California Civil Code section 841, any one who plans to put in, maintain, repair or replace any shared offense or any a part of a share fence must inform the opposite impacted property owners with no less than 30 days notice and accomplish that in writing.

This letter must contain a transparent outline of the proposed construct, the upkeep or repair of the fence that’s being considered together with the reasoning for the operation, and likewise detail in clear language what motion shall be taken and roughly how long it should take together with an expense projection.

These letters must also include an area for the name and signature of every recipient.

So if you happen to get considered one of these letters, it’s now right down to you to take appropriate motion…

If you’re unable or unwilling to pay for the development, maintenance or repairs associated together with your neighbors fence project, or really each of yours shared fencing project, then you definitely’ll must prove to local authorities that:

  • it has no or little profit for you,
  • that the prices are simply unreasonable or excessive,
  • or that you just just cannot afford to pay due to some hardship.

California Code, Civil Code – CIV 841


Are Fences Required to Contain Livestock in California?

Yes. As described above it’s the responsibility of all livestock owners to contain their animals on their very own property.

Typically, it will require fencing for any animals which might be allowed to roam or graze, and counts for the livestock owners own parcel in addition to any parcels that they’ve legal access to or permission to be on.

Livestock owners are answerable for any damages that their trespassing or escaped animals cause!

Do Neighbors Have to Share the Costs of Maintaining a Fence in California?

Yes. Under California’s Good Neighbor Fence Law, the essential presumption is that every property owner advantages to a level from a boundary fence, and in keeping with the measure of that profit is accountable for maintenance and maintenance.

This means that you just’ll be accountable for helping to take care of the fence, clean it, paint it and so forth.

California law doesn’t specify which part, length or facing of a fence you’re accountable for.

But, it’s traditional that every neighbor is accountable for their side of the fence, and it should coordinate to be certain that cleansing, upkeep and refinishing is finished in an organized manner that can contribute to the longevity of the fence.

But as with the installation of a fence in the primary place, this law will not be absolute.

You might have the opportunity to abdicate this presumed responsibility with additional evidence that the fence doesn’t profit you, that the proposed upkeep or maintenance procedures are excessive or unnecessary, or that you just’re currently under a financial hardship.

How Tall Does California Allow You to Build a Fence?

California State law and attendant constructing codes specify that there may be a general 6 foot limit on the peak of any fence which you could construct on a residential property. That is, built without a permit!

For any fence over 6 feet tall, you will have a permit. And that is just for the edges and back of your private home; the utmost height of any front yard fence is capped at 42 inches.

Except in extraordinary circumstances, there may be a blanket limit on the peak of any fence at 10 feet; fences, partitions or other barriers that exceed 10 feet generally fall into the category of a nuisance fence or spite fence, and are illegal under California law.

What is a Spite Fence? Are they Allowed in California?

Broadly speaking, a spite fence is any fence, wall, barrier or fence like structure, manufactured from natural materials or otherwise, that’s designed or installed in such a way that it is meant to deprive one other property owner of the enjoyment of their property.

Spite fences are typically put as much as block otherwise nice views, to dam sunlight, maliciously forged shade, and even block air flow to adjoining properties – or generally simply to be an eyesore.

California defines a spite fence as any fence or fence like structure that unnecessarily exceeds 10 feet in height that was maliciously erected or maintained in such a way as to harass the owner or occupant of any adjoining property.

Spite fences are considered a personal nuisance, and customarily the one that raised it could be forced to take it down or modify it. See California Civil Code Section 841.4 below:


California Code, Civil Code – CIV 841.4


Does Building a Fence Make You Liable for Anything in California?

Yes. As described above, if you happen to initiate the constructing of any fence otherwise you turn out to be accountable for the maintaining of any fence in keeping with your neighbors wishes you’re held answerable for following California law regarding your contributions to the project.

Additionally, for any fence on a boundary line there have to be no gaps within the fence of any kind that would allow a toddler to slide through or under the fence.

If it could be proven that you just negligently allowed conditions to exist that may facilitate a toddler passing through or under the fence, you can be held legally liable.

What Happens if a Neighbor’s Fence is Actually on My Property?

Assuming your neighbor desires a fence and has it installed, with or without your permission and contribution, and it seems that the fence is in your property or encroaching too closely to your property line based on any existing agreement or survey, it’s highly likely which you could force them to take the fence down or move it.

This will almost definitely require the help of an attorney, but at any rate, you should not sit on the issue…

If you don’t take motion regarding it, it is feasible that they may gain the legal right to go away the fence where it’s and even have the opportunity to annex a portion of your property under adversarial possession.

HOA Requirements and Local or County Ordinances Will Still Apply

And only a reminder, all the above is just California’s state law, and doesn’t cover local county, municipal and city laws or guidelines which in all likelihood will entail additional restrictions.

Generally, there shall be requirements on material, style, height, permitting and more.

Also don’t forget to ascertain together with your HOA for any restrictions and your subdivision, if applicable, for any covenants, codes and restrictions, popularly known as CCRs, for ones that may apply to fence projects.

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