Property Line and Fence Laws in Wisconsin

Getting along with your neighbors isn't always easy. A minor disagreement can quickly escalate into a battle. The source of the conflict may vary, but property line and fence laws issues are a common cause of neighbor disputes. Sometimes neighbors can resolve the problems amongst themselves. However, that's not always possible and Wisconsin's state laws help to provide a way out of a frustrating situation.

Property Lines and Fence Laws in Wisconsin: First Step

Establishing the property line can be the first step in addressing neighbor conflicts. Although you can obtain property line information from the Internet, you shouldn't necessarily rely on the accuracy of what you find. Instead, you may have to conduct a survey to determine where your property actually ends. This can be relevant when establishing the owner of a fence. For instance, Wisconsin law states that when owners build a fence before their boundary line has been located and the fence is later found to be located on adjoining land, the person who built the fence is the owner of the fence, but he or she must then relocate the fence to the boundary line.

Property Lines and Tree Trimming in Wisconsin

Issues related to trees are another area that can cause neighbor disputes. When applied to common trees, Wisconsin law states that owners can trim on their side of the boundary line so long as the trimming does not cause "unreasonable injury" to the neighbors' trees. This includes limbs and trunks. Wisconsin also penalizes those who intentionally harm trees.

Wisconsin Property Line and Fence Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of state laws related to property line and fence laws in Wisconsin, including links to important code sections.

Statutes

Partition Fence
  • The occupants of adjoining lands must keep and maintain fences in equal shares.
  • The occupants may agree to use markers instead of fences.
  • The occupants must maintain repairs unless the occupants mutually agree.

Relocation of the Fence

  • When owner/occupant builds a fence before a boundary line has been located between that land and adjoining land and the location of the boundary line establishes that the fence is located on the adjoining land, the person who built the fence is the owner.
  • The owner of the fence must relocate the fence within 30 days after the service of the written notice of the location of the fence to the fence owner by the owner/occupant of the adjoining land where the fence is located.

Tree Damage

  • Civil Penalties: You can sue someone who damages your tree and can recover damages.
  • Criminal Penalties: You cannot cut, remove or transport any portion of the tree without the owner's permission. If you intentionally violate this, you can face criminal charges.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Property Line and Fence Laws in Wisconsin: Related Resources

Get Help With Your Property Dispute From a Local Wisconsin Attorney

If you're involved in a dispute with neighbors over fences or tree trimming, then you may need to get legal help to resolve the issue. You should consider reaching out to an experienced real estate attorney near you to learn more about your rights and to decide the best way to proceed with your case.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.