Wisconsin fence law doesn’t require you to ask your neighbor for permission to build your own fence on your own land. It also strongly encourages neighbors to reach agreements about their fences. We always strongly encourage all our customers to talk to their neighbors before we begin work, just to make sure there aren’t any misunderstandings.
Most people get into trouble when they don’t pay attention to the boundary line of a property. While fences don’t form a new boundary line, they certainly can stray onto land your neighbor owns if you’re not careful. This can lead to a nasty legal dispute, one which could obligate you to tear down your new fence.
Go to the county assessor’s office to find out where your boundary line is, or hire a surveyor.
Is Wisconsin law the only law homeowners need to worry about?
Almost every town in Wisconsin has its own fence regulations and building permit process. This can govern everything from how high your fence can be to how close to the property line it can be.
In some jurisdictions, you have to build your fence two feet back from the property line, for example.
You’re also going to want to check in with your HoA. Often, the association will have its own rules and regulations. You probably signed a contract saying you agreed to those rules when you bought the property, which means they can and will legally challenge you if you build a fence that strays outside of those guidelines.
Why can’t I build right on the property line?
Technically, you can. But you’ll give your neighbor ammo to get into a dispute with you even if you follow the surveyed line of the property to the last inch.
This is because Wisconsin fence law says that when you build a fence directly on the property line, both you and your neighbor become responsible for paying for it, as well as for paying to maintain it. Your neighbor might not be too pleased to learn you’ve signed them up for a legal and financial obligation they didn’t ask for.
See also: How to Manage a Boundary Fence With Your Neighbor.
What happens if neighbors get into a fence dispute?
Neighbors have the option of calling upon the town board’s supervisors who will serve as “fence viewers.” The town will charge each neighbor a fee for the service and will determine whether the fence violates state law or local ordinances.
Sometimes, the dispute won’t happen when you put up the fence. As long as you aren’t building an eyesore most neighbors don’t get too concerned.
It happens when you fail to maintain the fence. This means you should plan on keeping yours in good repair. You should also plan on pressure washing it and staining it at least every two years so it continues to look nice.
A simple conversation really can work wonders.
It can be galling to think you might need to consult with someone else before you do something with your property. Still, moving into a neighborhood means dealing with the wants and needs of the neighbors, too.
This tiny bit of courtesy really can go a long way.
Here’s the good news: when we build a fence for you we won’t ask you to do any of the legal bits! You can talk to your neighbor and check your property line. We’ll pull the permit and make sure your fence is in compliance with all local laws and ordinances.
Together, we’ll make a fence that won’t catapult you into a lengthy and expensive legal dispute.