For many homeowners, quarreling with your neighbors isn’t a foreign concept. Neighbors argue even over the slightest issues but reconcile at the end of the day.

However, the one dispute that never seems to go away is the conflict of boundary fences and property lines. To help address this, the state of Indiana has come up with a list of fence laws to help property owners.

It depends on the regulations in your county. In most residential areas, you won’t need a permit for any fence under 6 feet in height. But if the property is within the city limits, you’ll need a permit – regardless of the fence height.

You, however, need to know that while you may not need a permit to erect a fence, most counties still have zoning regulations you should follow.

The local homeowner’s association could also have additional requirements regarding the types of fences allowed. We recommend that you consult them first to learn their regulations.

Can I replace an existing fence without a permit?

In most counties, especially areas under city limits, you can’t. Authorities require that you have a permit to replace all fences, or even to conduct repairs that affect more than 50% of an existing fence.

However, this may not always be the case in your area so, talk to a local fencing expert to confirm.

Wooden Fence Cost

How tall can a privacy fence be in Indiana?

The maximum allowed height for a privacy fence is 6 feet. Front yard fences are capped at 3.5 feet (42 inches) while the side and rear fence at 6 feet. In cities like Indianapolis, the front yard height limit is 4 feet, and 6 feet on the rear, side, and corner lots.

Who owns the fence on property lines in IN?

According to the Indiana Code Title 32. Property § 32-26-9-1, a partition fence between adjoining neighbors is the responsibility of both owners. This law applies so long as one property can be considered an agricultural land outside city limits.

However, the statute allows the neighbors to come up with a special agreement regarding ownership of the fence. Such agreements can be oral, but you may need a written and recorded contract for it to be legally binding.

Note: Adjoining property owners who agree to build a partition fence that acts as a boundary are stopped from going back on the agreement.

How do you know where the property boundary is?

Whenever you’re buying a property, there’s usually visible markers indicating the boundaries. However, after some years, these markers quickly disappear.

Among the best ways to find the boundaries again is by paying for another survey. Surveyors map out the position of your property lines and leave colored markers indicating the corners.

You can also check your local county assessor’s office (or website). They’ll usually have a plat map of your street showing the precise boundaries for each property.

Lastly, you can find the boundary details on your title deed, even though it might not account for any covenant contracts that might have been made by the previous neighbors.

Can my neighbor build a fence on the property line?

Yes! However, they’ll first have to give you a notice of their intentions for you to share your opinion. The Indiana fence laws state that unless you agree otherwise, you’ll have to build or contribute towards one-half of that fence.

If you are unwilling to contribute towards that fence, the neighbor can seek the help of the town trustees. Nonetheless, he/she will first have to build their part of the fence, then send you a 20-day notice.

Can I put up a fence on my side of the property line?

Yes! If you intend to build a fence within your side of the property line, no law restricts you. In most rural areas, you can put up a fence to protect your crops or keep livestock in.

However, you still have to observe the zoning restrictions of your township or homeowner’s association.

Can you use a fence viewer to resolve a dispute?

Yes! The Indiana fence laws allow neighbors to seek the help of township trustees if they have a dispute.

If your neighbor doesn’t want to repair or build their half of the fence, the law demands that you first give that neighbor a 20-day notice. After this period if they don’t act on the notice, you can then notify the trustees.

The town trustees have the jurisdiction to estimate costs for the building and repair of the partition fence. They’ll then send a notice notifying the defaulting neighbor to repair or build the fence within 20 days.

If the neighbor still violates this notice, the trustee can build that fence portion and take legal action against the defaulter.

What is a spite fence?

A spite fence is a fence built by a neighbor to annoy, injure or harm an adjacent property owner. The Indiana fence laws strictly prohibit constructing such fences.

The law defines it under Indiana Code Title 32. Property § 32-26-10-1 as any fence structure unnecessarily taller than 6 feet erected maliciously to annoy the adjoining neighbor.

Any affected neighbor can file a lawsuit against this fence on grounds of a nuisance. If the evidence holds, the court can order its removal and even award money damages.

Indiana fence law basics

The fence laws in Indiana were mainly crafted to help neighbors with farms and agricultural lands. It recognizes the straight board and wire fences or picket fences 4 feet high as legal partition fences.

Under the law, adjoining neighbors sharing a partition fence are equally responsible for the construction and maintenance of the fence.

If any dispute arises regarding the fence responsibilities, the law provides trustees who act as fence viewers to help resolve the dispute.

Does Indiana fence law cover all property?

No. Since the Indiana fence laws mainly focus on the agricultural lands in rural areas, fences in towns and cities are governed by the local metropolitan ordinances. Under Ind. Code § 32-26-9-2, the Indiana fence laws only cover;

  • Properties outside or towns and municipalities
  • Properties sharing a border with land in a municipality or town

Determining responsibility for a partition fence

Indiana laws require adjoining neighbors to share the cost of building and repairing partition fences. This applies to any agricultural land or property located outside a city or municipality.

Even if one neighbor doesn’t use or benefit from the fence, they still have to contribute towards its maintenance.

Keep in mind: Property is considered agricultural if it’s zoned, reserved for conservation, or used for crop or livestock farming.

Indiana boundary fence laws at a glance

This table provides an overview of some of the state laws governing Indiana’s fence laws and links to their original documents.

StatuesSpite Fence LawLocal Fence Regulations
Indiana code § 32-26-9-1 Partition fence

Indiana code § 32-26-3-1 Recording fence maintenance agreements

Indiana code § 32-26-5-1 Live fence between adjoining lands

Indiana code § 32-26-10-1 Spite fence
To have a structure declared a spite fence, you must show:

A structure that operates as a fence that unnecessarily or maliciously exceeds six feet in height was constructed or maintained for the primary purpose of the structure is to annoy the owners or occupants of adjoining property.
City of Fort Wayne Fence code

City of Indianapolis Fence regulations

City of South Bend Residential information

City of Richmond Fence standards

Keep in mind; These laws are bound to change with time depending on the new legislation, federal court decisions, and other initiatives. Use the information provided above as a guide and research the latest regulations in your municipality.

FAQ's

It depends on your agreement. For agricultural lands outside the city limits, Indiana fence laws recognize it as the property of both neighbors. The neighbors can, however, choose to come up with another agreement.

If you can prove malicious intent behind the construction of that fence, Indiana laws allow you to file a suit against it. The court will order a halt to its construction or its removal.

Friendly neighbors won’t mind one neighbor doing this. However, legally, your neighbor needs permission to hang anything on your fence. Depending on the local ordinance in your district, you may take legal action against them for such an act.

Yes! But for a partition fence, you’ll need to consult your neighbor. The paint color and design should also be in accordance with your neighborhood’s HOA regulations.

Yes. While it’s always cheaper to share a fence with your neighbor, you are free to build your fence a few feet from the property line next to the neighbors.

Yes, you can. If you already know the accurate position of your property line from past survey data, you don’t have to do another survey. You can go straight to the construction.

Your neighbor can only remove fences on their side of the property line. To remove a shared fence, they’ll have to consult with you beforehand. Indiana laws also require that crop-owners be given a 6-month notice to protect their crops.

It depends on the intended location of the fence. For partition fences on the property line, you’re legally required to inform them about your intended construction.

Timothy Munene
Author: Timothy Munene - Timothy is a freelance writer and an online entrepreneur.