Can a new neighbor require that I remove fencing on my property?

My former neighbor and I agreed to build a privacy screen between our homes

so we did not look into each other’s bedrooms. The wooden fencing is on top of a block wall, both on my property, but exceeds the height limit because we are on a slope. The new neighbor, who purchased the house fully aware of this visible wall and wooden fencing, is now demanding that I remove the wooden fence and threatens that she will go to the city to have me remove it. Can I be required to remove fencing that exceeds the height limit? It’s been in place for over 5 years?

Asked on September 10, 2018 under Real Estate Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that your agreement with your former neighbor has no legal effect; it is not binding on your new neighbor. This is true even though the fence has been there for 5 years; you have no claim of adverse possession. At this point, if she reports you to the city, it can issue a code violation against you and force you to remove the fence.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

The fact that the fence  has been in place for 5 years or more has no legal effect; and whatever agreement you had with your former neighbor is not binding on the new property owner. She cannot force the city to take action, but she can report the violation to the city, and the city could choose to enforce their code against you and force you to move it.

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