What is a Good Neighbor Fence?

April 6, 2018

Do you have a fence that shares a boundary line with a neighbor? If so, then you may know that it can be difficult to get your fence replaced. No one wants to be stuck with the backside of a fence facing their yard, especially if they’re paying for a portion.

However, a “good neighbor fence” can help homeowners on both sides be satisfied with what they see from their yard.

There’s no need to have an eyesore on one side of the fence. Here are a few things you need to know about good neighbor fences.

What is a good neighbor fence?

Typically, normal fences will have the presentable side with boards facing outwards, with the posts and stringers facing in towards the yard. But, a good neighbor fence is built differently and looks identical on both sides. This is especially important when it comes to a shared fence on a boundary line with a neighbor. No one needs to compromise and accept that they have the “bad side” if you use this kind of fence. Good neighbor fences can be built to different fence heights, depending on their location and use case.


What’s the law for a good neighbor fence?

While there technically aren’t state laws regulating the aesthetics of a fence, you do need to keep in mind local ordinances and covenants, conditions & restrictions (CC&R’s) may regulate that.

You also need to know the laws surrounding installing a new fence on a boundary line as well, typically referred to as “good neighbor fence” laws.

In the state of California: “Adjoining landowners are presumed to share an equal benefit from any fence dividing their properties and, unless otherwise agreed to by the parties in a written agreement, shall be presumed to be equally responsible for the reasonable costs of construction, maintenance, or necessary replacement of the fence.”

If you’d like, you can read more about the law here.

Because of these regulations, you’ll typically be sharing the cost of a new fence if you have an adjoining neighbor.

What do I need to do if I want a fence on a boundary line?

You must make sure you send your neighbor a notice of your intention to build a new fence, at least 30 days before you start. Of course, they also must agree with your intentions to build a new fence as well.

Here’s a list of what the notice must include:

  • Reference to the law stating that “Adjoining landowners are presumed to share an equal benefit from any fence dividing their properties…”
  • A description of the problem with the fence
  • Your planned solution
  • Estimated costs
  • How to split those costs
  • A timeline for getting the fence installed

How can I bring this topic up with my neighbor?

If the fence runs along a property line you share with a neighbor, the installation could benefit both of you. First, broach the subject of the fence as a shared resource with your neighbor. If they agree that the fence them benefits too, that’s a good time to propose the idea of sharing costs.

We understand that entering financial agreements with friends and neighbors can be awkward,

So here are some tips to help you:

  • If you don’t have their phone number or email, write a note and slip it under their door or put it in their mailbox.
  • Invite them outside near the property line to view the fence together. Point out the wear and tear, and why it may be a safety hazard.
  • Explain that a fence can be an investment piece to add beauty and value to their yard. According to Realty Times, privacy wood fences “can net a profit of at least 50% of the material and installation costs on resale.”

Is it possible for my neighbor to refuse sharing costs?

In some cases this could be possible. The previously mentioned law has these guidelines in reference to whether or not there isn’t a “shared benefit” for the fence:

  • Whether the financial burden to one landowner is substantially disproportionate to the benefit conferred upon that landowner by the fence in question.
  • Whether the cost of the fence would exceed the difference in the value of the real property before and after its installation.
  • Whether the financial burden to one landowner would impose an undue financial hardship given that party’s financial circumstances as demonstrated by reasonable proof.
  • The reasonableness of a particular construction or maintenance project, including all of the following: (i) The extent to which the costs of the project appear to be unnecessary or excessive. (ii) The extent to which the costs of the project appear to be the result of the landowner’s personal aesthetic, architectural, or other preferences.
  • Any other equitable factors appropriate under the circumstances.

These guidelines are important to keep in mind when deciding on the kind of fence you want installed, costs, design, etc. It’d be best to discuss such things with your neighbor beforehand. Some communication in the beginning could save you from potential problems later on.

Now that you know what a good neighbor fence is, the laws surrounding them, and what you need to do to get one, you’ll be all set with starting the process of getting a new fence that both you and your neighbor can enjoy.

Ready to get started? Join the over 10,000 happy customers who have had fences built by Ergeon. We specialize in fence installation and repair and hold a 4.6 average rating!

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