D.C. Laws on Property Disputes Between Neighbors

A breakdown of D.C. laws on neighbor disputes involving trees, fences, and the right to farm.

D.C. Tree Damage Laws

In the District of Columbia, if someone damages your tree, you can recover your actual damages (usually, what you paid for the tree or what it would cost to replace the tree). (To learn what you must prove in order to get actual damages, see Nolo’s article When a Neighbor Damages or Destroys Your Tree.) In some states, specific laws allow you to recover additional damages if someone deliberately damages your tree. To find out whether D.C. has such a statute, check the table below. The table will also tell you the amount you can sue for (the number is usually represented as a multiple of your actual damages).

In addition, intentionally damaging a tree is a crime in some states and can result in arrest, jail, fines, and other penalties. Check the table below to find out if there’s a D.C. criminal statute on causing intentional damage to a tree. General D.C. criminal statutes, such as those related to theft or property damage, may also apply. (To learn more about damages and criminal penalties in tree injury cases, see Nolo’s article When a Neighbor Damages or Destroys Your Tree.)

Additional Damages and Criminal Penalties for
Intentional Damage to Trees in D.C.

D.C. Statute for Additional Damages

Additional Amount You Can Sue for in D.C.

D.C. Criminal Statute


No additional damages

D.C. Code Ann. § 22-3310

D.C. Boundary Fence Laws

A boundary fence is a fence that is located on or near a property line, though the exact definition can vary by state. Sometimes even a hedge can act as a boundary. To learn more about boundary fences, including how they are defined, when a neighbor is allowed to build a boundary fence, and who is responsible for repairs and maintenance, see Nolo’s Fences and Neighbors FAQ. The District of Columbia's does not have a specific law defining and regulating boundary fence statutes.

D.C. Right to Farm Laws

D.C. does not have a right to farm law, although surrounding states do. These are tlaws that exempt farmers and other agricultural operators from complying with nuisance laws -- laws that restrict certain kinds of noisy activity like operation of heavy machinery, or prohibit the use of pesticides, for example. To learn more about right to farm statutes, see Nolo's article Rural Neighbors and the Right to Farm.

For More Information

To learn more about these property issues and other disputes between landowners and neighbors, get Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise, by Cora Jordan and Emily Doskow (Nolo).

Swipe to view more

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you

Legal Information & More from Nolo