Wherever partition fences are concerned, conflicts between neighbors are bound to occur. That’s why most states in the country have passed bills regarding property lines and fences.

In Minnesota, these laws can be quite complicated and differ in every county. Here’s what you need to know before going guns blazing with your neighbor.

While the regulations are different in each county, most authorities require a building permit for fences over 7 feet tall. Counties such as Mankato may also demand a building permit for a fence over 2.5 feet.

Other cities such as Duluth require a zoning permit for all fences over 4 feet. You will also need to obtain a permit and an inspection if the fence is located in a floodplain area.

Always check your local requirements and city ordinances to be sure.

property line fence laws Minnesota

Can I replace an existing fence without a permit?

It depends on the regulations of your city or counties. According to most fence laws, you’ll need a permit to replace or repair at least 40% of the existing fence.

You might also need a permit if you’re replacing a fence that previously violated the local fence ordinances.

How tall can a privacy fence be in Minnesota?

Residential neighborhoods usually have a fence limit of 4 feet for the front yard and 6 feet for the back and side yard. In city neighborhoods like Minneapolis, the maximum height restrictions are 3 feet for front yard and corner side yards.

For commercial properties, the height restrictions stand at 8 feet on all sides of the fence. Residents can, however, apply for a variance from the building and planning department if they need a taller fence.

Who owns the fence on property lines in MN?

According to the Minnesota laws, a partition fence on the property line belongs to both adjoining properties benefiting from the fence. As such, the costs of installation and maintenance have to be shared equally by both neighbors.

However, there two conditions that should be met for this law to apply:

  • One landowner must desire to fence part or whole of their land
  • The property of one of both landowners should be partly or wholly used or improved

This means that one neighbor can compel the adjoining neighbor to build or contribute to the maintenance of one-half of the fence.

How do you know where the property boundary is?

If you don’t know the exact location of your property boundary, conducting a survey is the best way to find it. The professional surveyor will always leave conspicuous marks to indicate the corners of your property.

You can also go through your deed to see if it has details regarding the boundary. Some deeds have detailed results of previous survey data indicating the location of your land’s property lines.

Property owners can also visit their local Assessor’s office or website, to see the plat maps showing the boundaries of all homes within your street.

Can my neighbor build a fence on the property line?

Yes! The Minnesota fence statutes allow neighbors to build fences on the property line when they see the need to. They will, however, have to inform you of their intentions to determine the obligations and responsibilities for that fence.

The law also allows you to agree to an arrangement regarding the cost-sharing and fence installation. Such agreements must be documented in writing and filed at the local county recorder’s office.

Otherwise, under the 2019 Minnesota Statutes section 344.03, the neighbor may compel you to share costs for the fence.

Additionally, if that fence encloses your land, either partially or wholly, you will be liable to pay one-half of the fence’s current value to the owner.

Any disputes that arise can be addressed by fence viewers who assess and determine solutions for the fence problem between landowners.

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

Yes! In most counties, the law doesn’t restrict you from building a fence inside your property. Some fence laws also won’t require a permit for you to begin construction.

However, you’ll be required to locate your property lines and ensure that your fence doesn’t encroach on your neighbor’s side or a public right-of-way.

Moreover, the fence will be subject to your city and township ordinances, including height and setback limits. The area’s Homeowner’s Association (HOA) fencing regulations may also affect the type of fence you put up.

What local fence ordinances regulate?

The fence ordinances in Minnesota will be different in every city, county, and town. Different HOAs in subdivisions will also have varying regulations regarding fence height, appearance, materials, and location restrictions.

In most parts of Minnesota, the height restrictions stand at 4 feet for front yard fences, and 6 feet for backyard fences.

For partition fences, ownership and maintenance obligations are shared between the adjoining neighbors, as long as part of the land is improved, or used by either or both of the owners.

If one neighbor fails to build, replace or repair their part of the fence, the Minnesota Statutes (Ch. 343-348) § 344.04. allow them to involve fence viewers (chosen depending on the governmental unit the fence is located). The fence viewers will send a notice to both neighbors then look into that matter.

They are required to decide whether a fence is sufficient or not. They will also determine how much the complaining neighbor should receive as compensation for building a fence for the non-complying neighbor.

What is a spite fence?

A spite fence often refers to any fencing structure erected and maintained with malicious intent aiming to annoy the adjacent property owner. The fence could include hedges and shrubs which are overly tall.

The good news for Minnesota residents is that the law has rules against such structures. In the 2020 Minnesota statutes section 561.02, any fence of this nature is deemed as a private nuisance.

Under section 561.03, property owners can sue for damages caused by such a fence, or even have it abated as a nuisance.

Minnesota boundary fence laws at a glance

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

StatuesPartition Fences- Expenses, Equal Shares, Adjoining OwnersFailure to Build, Rebuild, Repair; Repair Costs
Partition fences; Adjoining owners: Minn. Stat. 344.03

Failure to build, rebuild, repair: Minn. Stat. 344.04

The repair cost recoverable: Minn. Stat. 344.05

The decision by fence viewers: Minn. Stat. 344.06

Failure to erect or maintain the fence: Minn. Stat. 344.07

Erecting more than share: Minn. Stat. 344.09

Lands bounded by the stream: Minn. Stat. 344.10

Lands occupied in common: Minn. Stat. 344.11
If all or part of the land is improved/used and one or both of the owners want a fence, then the occupants must build and maintain the partition fence in equal shares.If one party fails to build, rebuild, or repair a partition fence and they are required to do so, then the other party has a right to complain to the fence viewers.

If one party makes repairs acceptable to the fence viewers, that party can recover repair costs from the adjoining owner.

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

In Minnesota, adjoining landowners using or benefiting from the fence are both regarded responsible for that boundary fence. Exceptions may occur if the neighbors agree on a different ownership plan.

A fence blocking your view falls under a private nuisance in the Minnesota fence statutes. You can, therefore, take legal action against the owner of the fence to receive money damages or have the fence removed.


If the fence lies entirely on their side of the property line, the neighbor may have the right to treat it as their belonging and hang whatever they want. However, for a fence on your property, the neighbor will need to ask for your permission before doing anything on the fence.

It depends on your local homeowner’s regulation as well as the owner of the fence. Generally, you can’t paint your side of a neighbor’s fence if you don’t like it.

For a fence on the property line, you might have the freedom to paint your side of the fence depending on your HOA’s regulation.

Yes. All neighborhoods allow you to build a fence on your side of the property line, next to your neighbor’s. However, you have to ensure that the fence doesn’t encroach into the adjacent property.

An illegal fence in Minnesota refers to a fence that violates the definition of a legal and sufficient fence as defined by the Minnesota statute under section 344.02.

In most cases, yes. The Minnesota laws demand that neighbors who use their land for any purpose, whether agricultural or commercial, share the cost burden for the installation and maintenance of the partition fence.

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