Wisconsin Laws on Property Disputes Between Neighbors

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

Wisconsin Tree Damage Laws

In Wisconsin, 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin criminal statute on causing intentional damage to a tree. If Wisconsin does not have such a law, general Wisconsin criminal statutes, such as those related to theft or property damage, may still 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 Wisconsin

Wisconsin Statute for Additional Damages

Additional Amount You Can Sue for in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Criminal Statute

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 26.09

Double damages

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 26.05

Wisconsin 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.

To find Wisconsin’s boundary fence statutes, see the table “Boundary Fence Statutes,” below. If your state does not have a specific law defining and regulating boundary fences, there might be a local ordinance (in your city, county, or town) that has rules on boundary fences.

 

Wisconsin Boundary Fence Statute

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 90.03 (farming or grazing

 

Wisconsin Right to Farm Laws

All states have enacted laws that exempt farmers and other agricultural operators from complying with run-of-the-mill nuisance laws -- laws that restrict certain kinds of noisy activity like operation of heavy machinery, or prohibit the use of pesticides, for example. States vary as to how “farming” is defined and how long the agricultural operation must be in existence in order to get protection under right to farm statutes. Some states also list specific things (for example, odor, noise, or dust) that don’t constitute a legal nuisance when they’re a byproduct of farming or agricultural activity. You can find Wisconsin’s right to farm statute in the table below. (To learn more about right to farm statutes, see Nolo’s article Rural Neighbors and the Right to Farm.)

 

Wisconsin Right to Farm Statute

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 823.08

For other Nolo articles on neighbor disputes involving adverse possessions and easements, see Adverse Possession: When Trespassers Become Property Owners and Easements: Overview.

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

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