Valencia, CA asked in Real Estate Law and Land Use & Zoning for California

Q: I'm stuck on the issue of maintenance responsibilities for the view fences/walls located in the back of homes.

I'm stuck on the issue of maintenance responsibilities for the view fences/walls located in the back of homes that are located between a private lot and an Association common area lot. Party walls are located between two private lots, not on the Association common area. Based on everything I have read, it seems as though the HOA should be maintaining the view fences/ walls that I'm referring to. Our CC&Rs reference Civil Code 841 in regards to party walls. My HOA has no idea which party (homeowner of private lot or the HOA) should have the rights and duties to the view fences/walls located in the back of homes that are located between a private lot and an HOA common area lot.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, the responsibility for maintaining fences or walls between a private lot and an HOA common area is typically determined by the HOA's governing documents, such as the CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions), bylaws, and any other applicable rules and regulations.

Civil Code 841, which you mentioned, specifically addresses party walls between two private lots and does not directly apply to fences or walls between a private lot and HOA common area.

In many cases, the HOA is responsible for maintaining fences or walls that border common areas, as these are often considered part of the common area itself. However, this can vary depending on the specific language in the HOA's governing documents.

To determine the responsibility for maintenance, consider the following:

1. Review your HOA's CC&Rs, bylaws, and any other relevant documents to see if they specifically address the maintenance of fences or walls bordering common areas.

2. Look for any language that defines the boundaries of the private lots and common areas, as well as any provisions related to maintenance responsibilities.

3. If the governing documents are unclear or silent on this issue, consult with an attorney specializing in HOA law to help interpret the documents and provide guidance.

4. Attend an HOA board meeting or request a meeting with the board to discuss the issue and seek clarification on the maintenance responsibilities for these fences/walls.

If the HOA's governing documents do not provide clear guidance, it may be necessary for the HOA to amend the documents to clarify the maintenance responsibilities for fences or walls between private lots and common areas. This process typically requires a vote of the HOA members.

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