Staying Neighborly with "Good Neighbor" Fences

Real Estate Agent with GreatWest Realty DRE# 00827565

My dog, Kodi Bear is a very lucky pooch.  I say that, because he shares a "good neighbor" fence with Jack, the homeowner, who lives next door.  I think both Jack and Kodi Bear will admit they weren't very good neighbors in the beginning of their relationship.  Every time Jack would go out in his yard and approach the fence, Kodi Bear would bark relentlessly at him, from our side.  I am certain this drove Jack nuts, until the two of them worked on their communication skills.



It started with Jack, talking gently to Kodi Bear, and offering him treats. 

Anything food related works really well as a bribe, and for cozying up to Kodi Bear.  Over the years, things have really blossomed between the two of them.

Evidence of that came a couple years ago, when Jack and his wife put in an elaborate Koi pond with Japanese landscape.  They replaced a section of fence between our houses, and made certain they included a private window for Kodi Bear and Jack, so they could visit with each other at the fence.

However, not all "good neighbor" fences are as peaceful and delightfully handled as the one between Kodi Bear and Jack!

*Photo taken by Kodi Bear's neighbor, Jack - from Jack's side of the "good neighbor" fence.

Most everywhere you go in California, you will see communities with fences running between the homes. Usually they are 6' cedar or redwood, which provide a bit of illusion and some reality of privacy.

However, when the fence begins to age, and the winds come, the fence can come down.  Sometimes there are trees, and other issues that pop up with fences.  Since many of these fences are termed "good neighbor" fences, who is responsible for paying for replacement or repair?

According to California Civil Code 841, if the fence is on the property line, then both parties are responsible for the fence.

Should one party decide not to pay, there can sometimes be remedy in small claims court.  But doing so certainly won't enhance your relationship with your neighbor.

Insurance policies will sometimes cover loss due to windstorm or fire, but that amount is usually half the value of the entire fence, minus half your deductible.  That's assuming that the neighbor will be doing the same with his insurance carrier.

The key is to take a lesson from Kodi Bear and Jack - "Good neighbors communicate."

For more information, there is a great article on good neighbor fences, written by: Bruce Linde.  It can be accessed via the following link:


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Cindy Abel
Southern Nevada Realty, LLC - Las Vegas, NV
Broker/Owner - Las Vegas Homes and Real Estate

Ahh, that picture put a smile on my face.  Thanks for sharing.

Jun 19, 2010 07:52 AM #42
Jan Laurie
JL Residential Styling & Staging - Nanaimo, BC

This is a delightful illustration.

And then there are the clever neighbors who work together with creative landscaping and find that the wooden structures outlining their properties (fences) are superfluous. That is a beautiful thing.

Jun 19, 2010 09:59 AM #43
DeeDee Riley
Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA - El Dorado Hills, CA
Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas

I love that Myrl.  "Good neighbors communicate" and not just about fences! Great reminder!  Thank you.

Jun 19, 2010 11:59 AM #44
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

As an old insurance adjuster I handled a lot of fence losses and you have it down exactly right. 

Jun 19, 2010 01:17 PM #45
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

And don't forget the neighbors who believe a fence was improperly constructed on their property, Myrl. You know, the guys who think that a new owner will tear down that fence and move it back. Yeah, right. So, even though the seller mentioned it, and I put it on my AVID, the neighbor will then still call me to complain and yell about it.

Jun 20, 2010 02:09 AM #46
Ann Hayden
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties-St. Louis Missouri - Chesterfield, MO


What a cute idea!  Sounds like you have an awesome neighbor!!!

Ann Hayden in Ellisville, MO

Jun 20, 2010 02:28 AM #47
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Elizabeth - There are always those memorable dalliances from the norm. . .LOL 

For me, the boundary dispute which made my hair stand on end, was with a really nice property over in Fair Oaks.  Gorgeous 4800 square foot home on a very large lot.  EVERYONE had thought the back boundary line was the center of the creek.  The neighbor to the back, a prominent county politician and attorney, had built an elaborate gazebo on "their side" of the creek, at water's edge.  After close of escrow, my buyer decided to put in a fence because of his dogs.  But first he had a survey done.  The neighbors on one side, lost their entire vegetable garden, which was deemed to be on my client's land.  The neighbor on the otherside was ok, as the boundary came up accurate.

BUT, the neighbor to the back was a horse of a VERY different color.  It turned out the creek was entirely on my client's land.  The creek was not the boundary.  And that gorgeous gazebo was an encroachment.

So, one Saturday morning, I put on my hiking boots, walked across the lawn of my client, across the creek, and up the lawn of the back neighbor.  I was trying to be brave, but wasn't looking forward to that conversation at all.  I knocked on the back door, and when the politically connected neighbor answered, I communicated the plight!  Much to my surprise, he was very cooperative.  He asked how long we would allow for the gazebo to be moved.  I countered, "How long do you think it would reasonably take you?"  He responded, "About 10 days."  And it was handled! 

When I got back in my car and drove back to my office, I had the real feeling, I had just dodged a bullet! 

Jun 20, 2010 03:47 AM #48
Stacey Mayer - Everett, WA

Elizabeth, you're an amazing woman! You just pulled up your boots, took a deep breath, and did what needed to be done! I am sure your friendly smile laid the foundation for their positive reaction.  Expecting a good result is possible, is sometimes the most important tool we have. You set him up for a good response! Now, that's the kind of agent I'd choose!

Jun 20, 2010 06:52 AM #49
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate

Myrl, that is a fabulous story & you are lucky to have Jack as a neighbor.  Cute little viewing window!

Jun 20, 2010 07:48 AM #50
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Kodi Bear is to cute and I love how you included the tidbit of information about the fences well done Myrl.  My pup is having the same issue, he makes a B-line for the fence when he hears the other dog outside..Maybe the viewing window could work :) have a great day!

Jun 20, 2010 08:54 AM #51
Bruce Walter
Keller Williams Realty Lafayette/West Lafayette, Indiana - West Lafayette, IN

Myrl, what a great story and tie in to California law concerning the details of what  happens to fencing and certain legal issues that can come up.

A lot of times smaller dogs bark out of not knowing what is going on next door.  Your fence peep hole idea is really a perfect illustration of how it should be with our neighbors as well.  Do we want to stop all communication with our neighbors as can happen with the erection of a tall barrier.

I really enjoyed this post, Myrl!  (and the picture of Koki Bear!!!)

Jun 20, 2010 08:54 AM #52
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Laura - I have often wondered what it would be like to be inside a dog's head for 24 hours.  Sometimes I wonder, what are they thinkin'?

Bruce - You make an excellent point about considering whether you want to stop all communication with our neighbors, by building a tall barrier!

Gene - That is interesting about your working as an insurance adjuster.  I worked in the claims office of an insurance agency, so I had a little experience with that as well.

Jun 20, 2010 11:11 AM #53
Gerry Khatchikian
Red Lodge, MT


That neighbor of yours sure captured a great photo of Kodi Bear.  Jack makes a great neighbor and your lucky pooch looks adorable!  I enjoyed reading this post.   Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. 

Jun 20, 2010 02:55 PM #54
Tina Gleisner
Home Tips for Women - Portsmouth, NH
Home Tips for Women

Myrl, Great article and photo ... so I had to write about my own "almost got in trouble" experience which I never understood until reading your article. Used Kodi's photo and gave you credit for the idea ... Who Owns the Fence?

Jun 21, 2010 12:23 AM #55
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Gerry - Jack really did capture a great photo of Kodi.  I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

Tina - Thank you for the mention on your website.  It's greatly appreciated.  I read your article, and you did a really good job!

Jun 21, 2010 03:40 AM #56
Pamela Cendejas
Second Self Virtual Assistance - Kingman, AZ
Second Self Virtual Assistance (928) 692-3235

Hi Mryl - What a great neighbor.  Jack could have put up a fuss and caused all kinds of headaches for you.  It was so thoughtful for him to take action for a win-win situation.  And, the special good neighbor window he included in his fence what outstanding.  Love this story!

Jun 21, 2010 04:48 AM #57
Gloria Todor
Century 21 Absolute Realty - Media, PA
& Doug Durren (484) 431-3686 in SE PA

Hi Myrl,  Kodi Bear is a cutie bear and yes communication is always key.  Love the grapes above the opening.  Glad your situation worked out nicely.


Jun 23, 2010 07:47 AM #58
Steve Sandoval
Hacienda Heights, CA

Always nice to hear about a happy ending between neighbors. Now on fences, I like mine made of concrete block with mission smooth-finish stucco. Thanks for the lesson.

Jul 18, 2010 09:55 PM #59
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Myrl - Thank you for having this information available.

Sep 22, 2010 03:18 AM #72
Joni Bailey
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Anderson Properties - Huntsville, TX
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR®

I love your Kodi Bear and it is super cool that your neighbor was so thoughtful when he redid his fence. You are doubly blessed!

Oct 26, 2012 12:35 PM #73
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