When building a fence on your property, there are many factors to consider, from the materials you’ll use to which contractor to choose for the installation. But some laws give specific requirements for fence building that you’ll need to follow before and during your installation.
Among these laws, one of the most important is the California Good Neighbor Fence Law. It can be challenging to understand what exactly laws like this mean.
Here is a closer look at the California Good Neighbor Fence Law that can give you the confidence and knowledge to move forward with your fence installation.
Basic Fence Laws in California
California’s Building Code requires a permit before building fences above six feet tall. The only exception is if the top two feet of the fence are made from barbed wire, but that’s not a common consideration for most homeowners.
Front yard fences have a maximum height of 42 inches, while backyard fences can climb up to 72 inches.
These numbers change if you share the fence with your neighbor. A shared fence must be 62 inches tall at a minimum — not maximum — and free from relatively large gaps.
Also, if you’re a California homeowner with a pool deeper than 18 inches, you’ll need to install a fence around it. The fence should have a self-closing, self-latching gate with release mechanisms that must be placed at least 54 inches from the ground.
That’s a lot of numbers, but these rules account for many of the California fence law basics. Having them to reference can be helpful in understanding the California Good Neighbor Fence Law and assist you in staying compliant across the board.
An Overview of the California Good Neighbor Fence Law
This law goes into more detail about stipulations for shared fences between neighbors. Part of California Civil Code 841, the outline provides basic etiquette for parties on each side to uphold.
The law states that any plans for maintenance, replacements, or other work of a shared fence must be communicated to both parties at least 30 days in advance. In California, adjoining landowners share responsibility for fence maintenance, so keeping your neighbor in the loop when you want to plan anything is crucial.
The easiest way to do this is to send them a letter describing what work you’re scheduling and why it’s necessary. This letter even has a name — a good neighbor fence letter. They’re required under this law, so when you send one, don’t forget to include the following:
- Information about the problem and why it needs fixing
- The proposed solution to the problem
- How long the repairs or replacement will take to complete
- Your signature and the date, as well as space for their signature
- Ensure all involved parties receive your letter and you’ve done your part to uphold the law!
Common Questions Regarding California Fence Laws
Following proper protocol isn’t just neighborly; it’s essential under the California Good Neighbor Fence Law. Once you understand how California sees fence ownership, the law makes a lot of sense. But that doesn’t mean it’s not without its gray areas that require some clarification for homeowners.
One of the most common questions is about your insurance’s role in all of this. Most insurance plans cover fences under “other structures,” meaning they provide 10% of a dwelling’s coverage amount.
With shared fences, insurance companies typically only pay for your portion. That means you’ll need another written document with all property owners agreeing on splitting the responsibility into percentages and costs.
Some scenarios render you exempt from sharing fence costs. If you can’t afford to pay your share due to financial hardship, or if you can prove the costs to be unreasonable, you may be exempt from payment.
You can also make a case if the fence has significantly less benefit for your property, which can alleviate you of any responsibilities for the cost of the repairs or replacement.
Benefit from Understanding California’s Fence Laws
Investing some time in researching your local fence laws can protect you from potential delays or other issues when installing your fence. It can also lead to more collaborative efforts, allowing you to communicate more openly about mutually beneficial options with your neighbor.
Have you and your neighbor come to an agreement? Then it’s time to start building with the experienced professionals at American Precast Fences. Contact us today to learn more and get your free estimate!