As the old saying goes, “good fences make good neighbors.” But does this adage apply to all residential fence situations? What if your neighbor decides to build a fence right on the border line of your property and his or hers? What if (s)he decides to construct an especially high fence that blocks your view? Do you have any recourse? 

FindLaw explains that California law provides for situations such as these. 

Boundary fences 

Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on your point of view – Section 841 of the California Code makes you and your neighbor equally responsible for the reasonable costs associated with the construction, maintenance and/or replacement of any fence that sits on the boundary line of your respective properties. Why? Because the law presumes that both of you will benefit equally from such a fence. It therefore puts the two of you in the de facto position of jointly owning the fence. 

Your neighbor cannot, however, simply construct such a fence and then demand that you pay for half of it. Instead, (s)he must give you at least 30 days’ notice of his or her intentions prior to beginning construction. In addition, (s)he must provide you with a description of the proposed fence, along with its estimated cost and estimated time frame during which it will be completed. 

Spite fences 

If you and your neighbor have a falling out and (s)he builds a 10-foot or higher fence on his or her property just to spite you, you can avail yourself of Section 841.4 of the California Code. This law gives you the right to sue your neighbor for erecting a private nuisance. Furthermore, it applies regardless of the construction materials used.