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Check your property lines before building walls and fences

Updated August 16, 2012

If you're planning to build a block wall, replace a tired wood fence or add a decorative planter down the side of your front yard this spring, be sure to consider the people next door. You can maintain neighborly relations by staying within your property lines, using quality materials and following City rules.

To determine your property line, you will need a licensed land surveyor, found in the phone book. The surveyor will review the original tract maps filed with the County when your home was built, then use a variety of tools to measure the exact boundaries of your property. He or she will then stake the four corners of your land. For details on hiring a surveyor, download the "Consumer Guide to Professional Engineering and Professional Land Surveying" at dca.ca.gov.

Next, talk to your neighbor about your project. He or she may even agree to share the cost. Your new wall or fence should be within your property line or, if your neighbor agrees, may straddle the property line.

While neighbors are nearly always agreeable, disputes over property lines are considered civil matters that do not involve the City. For more information, check out "Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise," by Cora Jordan (KF 639.Z9.J67 2006), which is available in the reference and non-fiction sections at Cerritos Public Library.

Before building your new wall or fence, pick up an application and detailed guidelines at City Hall's Community Development counter. You must obtain Planning approval and, if the wall or fence is over thirty inches high, a building permit. Visit City Hall or call (562) 916-1209 for more details.

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