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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Echo Park, CA
    Posts
    14

    Lightbulb What Steps Should You Take Before Building a Fence

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: CA

    I will be adding a chainlink fence to my backyard to establish more clearly my boundary line with a neighbor below me on the slope who likes to play dumb and pretend that is his property since it blends into his. I do have a survey report showing the measurements and a printout from Department of Building & Safety clearly showing that additional space to be within my boundary lines. Also, since the neighbor likes to argue and get violent, I will be calling a cop ahead of time to be there for civil standby to make sure things go smoothly. I have not told the neighbor in advance because, as far as I know, I don't need to, and feel safer with him not knowing so he won't try anything clever.

    Before building the fence, I'd like to cover a few other bases first:

    1) The true boundary line gets a little strange near one end (becomes a thin sliver of land, which I can't really make use of, anyway), so I'll be building the fence a few feet inwards of the true line (meaning a subset of my total land, which I'm okay with). Does that mean technically I will own the fence 100% and can't enforce via good neighbor laws for the neighbor to pay his share?
    2) Along the path of where the fence will go, there are tons of small bushes and trees in that area. I know if a plant is entirely within my line, it's mine. What about if it's 50/50 or a small section (say a fourth of it) is on the neighbor's side? What is the best way to handle that to avoid issues with getting sued over who's tree it is? Can I just cut my side of it?
    3) In the area I am about to fence around, there is currently a long narrow black gate on the side that leads to a public drainage easement that I have with the city which lies on my property. However, the neighbor sometimes goes in there for cleanup purposes (if tree branches fall there from the rain or wind). So now after putting the fence, that means the neighbor will no longer be able to access that gate leading to the drainage area. I believe that means I would assume all responsibility to making sure that drainage path doesn't get clogged, which I'm fine with. Does my neighbor even need access to that by law? Because I suspect he might say something like "you can't block me from that gate, that's for drainage!"? His house is below the drainage area anyway, while I am above it. Also, the drainage is long enough that that black gate continues on for about 20 more feet towards an area that is no longer my property, just the neighbor's, meaning from his side, if he really wanted to, he could easily install a gate to access the drainage without having to get through my property.
    4) Anything I should worry about that the neighbor could do to obstruct the building of the fence (such as by spitefully putting an object on the way to block the fence path once the fence guy starts) or if he tries to complain or say something that the cop would be convinced and ask me to stop the construction? My attorney really recommended I get the fence up ASAP, so I would hate for it to get delayed based on any tricks he pulls.
    5) The neighbor is hard to talk to and stuck in his own beliefs (completely ignoring my survey report as an example). As he starts complaining in front of the cop, do I need to say anything in defense or really owe him no more explanation? How about if the neighbor bombards my fence guy with questions? Is it wise if I advise my fence guy to not talk to the neighbor?

    Any other general tips for being well-prepared are greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    211

    Default Re: What Proper Steps Can I Take Before Building a Fence

    Quote Quoting aj_waterman
    View Post
    I will be calling a cop ahead of time to be there for civil standby <- I'm not sure the police will want to be on standby at your place in case something happens. They will come when an issue arises. You could perhaps hire an off-duty cop to be your security if you wish.

    I have not told the neighbor in advance<- you don't have to, but it is the neighborly thing to do.

    1)Does that mean technically I will own the fence 100% and can't enforce via good neighbor laws for the neighbor to pay his share? You want the fence, it is on your land, you pay for it.
    2) Along the path of where the fence will go, there are tons of small bushes and trees in that area. You can only cut what is on your part of the line.
    3) In the area I am about to fence around, there is currently a long narrow black gate on the side that leads to a public drainage easementAll depends on the wording of the easement
    4) Anything I should worry about that the neighbor could do to obstruct the building of the fence (such as by spitefully putting an object on the way to block the fence path once the fence guy starts) [COLOR="#FF0000"]This is when you would call the police.
    5) do I need to say anything in defense or really owe him no more explanation?You have no obligation to give any explanation other to tell him you are installing the fence on your property. Same with your fence installer. This is why some sort of communication would be beneficial to you. After informing your neighbor of your plans, he may produce documents that are contradictory to yours. How about if the neighbor bombards my fence guy with questions? Let the fence guy know in advance. Chances are, they have dealt with this before.
    Communication is your friend. Keep it professional and only what is needed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    16,185

    Default Re: What Proper Steps Can I Take Before Building a Fence

    If the fence is not on the boundary line then it is not a boundary fence and no, you cannot force the neighbor to pay for half of it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    17,916

    Default Re: What Proper Steps Can I Take Before Building a Fence

    Quote Quoting aj_waterman
    View Post

    Any other general tips for being well-prepared are greatly appreciated.
    My best advice. Put your fence one foot inside your property line and you'll pretty much eliminate all your concerns.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    2,336

    Default Re: What Proper Steps Can I Take Before Building a Fence

    Quote Quoting aj_waterman
    View Post
    I will be calling a cop ahead of time to be there for civil standby to make sure things go smoothly.
    Ummm...maybe the police in your area have so little to do that they're so bored that they'll do this. Unless that's the case, the only way you're going to get a cop to be present for your fence construction is if you hire an off-duty cop as a security guard.

    Quote Quoting aj_waterman
    View Post
    1) The true boundary line gets a little strange near one end (becomes a thin sliver of land, which I can't really make use of, anyway), so I'll be building the fence a few feet inwards of the true line (meaning a subset of my total land, which I'm okay with). Does that mean technically I will own the fence 100% and can't enforce via good neighbor laws for the neighbor to pay his share?
    I'm not sure what you mean by "good neighbor laws," but it's certainly true that you cannot compel your neighbor to contribute to the cost of any structure you build on your own property. If you're talking about Civil Code section 841, if it applies to your situation, then all you need do is read it and comply with it.

    Quote Quoting aj_waterman
    View Post
    2) Along the path of where the fence will go, there are tons of small bushes and trees in that area. I know if a plant is entirely within my line, it's mine. What about if it's 50/50 or a small section (say a fourth of it) is on the neighbor's side? What is the best way to handle that to avoid issues with getting sued over who's tree it is? Can I just cut my side of it?
    If you want to avoid a potential issue about who owns a particular shrubbery, then build the fence in a way that avoids it.

    Quote Quoting aj_waterman
    View Post
    3) In the area I am about to fence around, there is currently a long narrow black gate on the side that leads to a public drainage easement that I have with the city which lies on my property. However, the neighbor sometimes goes in there for cleanup purposes (if tree branches fall there from the rain or wind). So now after putting the fence, that means the neighbor will no longer be able to access that gate leading to the drainage area. I believe that means I would assume all responsibility to making sure that drainage path doesn't get clogged, which I'm fine with. Does my neighbor even need access to that by law? Because I suspect he might say something like "you can't block me from that gate, that's for drainage!"?
    There is no generic state law that gives one neighbor access to another neighbor's property. Whether some local ordinance or the terms of the easement might require it is something we obviously can't opine about because you didn't provide the relevant facts.

    Question 4 doesn't seem to raise any legal issue and, instead, appears to ask for speculation about how your neighbor might interfere with your plan.

    Quote Quoting aj_waterman
    View Post
    5) The neighbor is hard to talk to and stuck in his own beliefs (completely ignoring my survey report as an example). As he starts complaining in front of the cop, do I need to say anything in defense or really owe him no more explanation? How about if the neighbor bombards my fence guy with questions? Is it wise if I advise my fence guy to not talk to the neighbor?
    Not sure why you think the police might care about this. The police do not exist to adjudicate property boundary issues. The only possible police issue might be if you or your "fence guy" trespasses on the neighbor's property, and the obvious solution there is not to trespass.

    I agree with "Guybrush's" comments regarding communicating with the neighbor.

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