Are There Squatters Rights In Wisconsin?

Squatting is an ancient concept that grants the occupant of a piece of land the potential to own it in time. Wisconsin requires those seeking such rights to remain on the property for a minimum of 18 years before attaining ownership. Historic settlers harnessed squatting for agricultural and residential needs but could not legally claim the land due to their situation.

Though much time has passed, these laws are still very much in place and can be a significant factor for those looking to buy a formerly owned or occupied property. Property owners need to be aware of the risks they take on when they permit usage without a binding agreement, as squatters may then have a renouncement of the land after 18 years have gone by.

What Are Squatters Rights?

Wisconsin is one of the few states in the US that recognize squatters’ rights. Settlers take up occupancy in an abandoned or neglected property without having a formal lease or deed. In Wisconsin, state courts have long recognized and protected squatters’ rights under a legal doctrine known as “adverse possession.” This doctrine holds that if an individual openly occupies another person’s land for a certain period without any challenge from the rightful owner, they can eventually gain legal rights to stay on the property and even obtain ownership. The term typically associated with adverse possession in Wisconsin is twenty years. Still, depending on certain circumstances, such as statements made by a settler in good faith, it may be possible to claim ownership after a shorter period.

What is the Law of Adverse Possession in Wisconsin?

History of Squatters Rights

Revised Input: In Wisconsin, Squatters’ Rights, commonly known as Adverse Possession, have evolved to provide a more balanced approach that offers equitable rights for both the occupier and rightful owner. Under this legal doctrine, an individual may gain legal title to the property they are occupying if they have continued to do so for 15 years without challenge and have paid necessary taxes on the property. Nevertheless, if the property has been abandoned, certain exceptions may be made to the 15-year rule. To ensure every stakeholder is given their due property rights, it is essential to be aware of all laws relating to Squatters’ Rights in Wisconsin.

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Relevant Laws

Squatting has been around for centuries, allowing someone to obtain legal ownership of a property they have been occupying without permission under certain conditions. In Wisconsin, such a squatter must have been continuously present on the property and have taken care of it by doing repairs and paying taxes for a minimum of 20 years. If these requirements are met, they may satisfy the conditions to gain title to the property. It should be noted, however, that this is typically only an option for properties that don’t have an owner and is not a way to circumvent someone else’s rightful ownership of the property.

Dating back to the 12th century, the long-standing legal concept of Squatter’s Rights, endorsed by Wisconsin courts, grants a form of legal ownership to someone who has taken and occupied possession of a piece of land for an extended time. Though there is no definitive timeline, courts have considered 7-10 years to be sufficient enough claim the land. However, exceptions to the rule still exist, such as when the original owner is deemed purposefully abandoning the land. When a settler claims the land, Wisconsin courts will focus primarily on the good faith belief of the immigrant that the land is their rightful property.

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Time Required To Establish Ownership

Adverse Possession, often referred to as Squatter’s Rights, has been established in Wisconsin since the 19th century. Under this law, a property occupant can gain legal title to the land they have been occupying for a certain period–typically twenty years–so long as they meet specific conditions, such as paying all taxes and providing proof of occupancy. Courts may grant title after seven years in some instances. From the modern view of squatters’ rights, it’s clear that the law exists to support those with a valid claim but insufficient resources to pursue it by legal means. In summary, Wisconsin has established Squatter’s Rights that enable an occupant to gain legal title to their occupied property as long as they fulfill their obligation to the law.

The Modern Take On Squatters Rights

The concept of Squatter’s rights and their application in Wisconsin has a long history. A minimum of 18 months of occupancy is typically required for legal ownership to be established by a settler. If an expatriate meets all the qualifications, they can claim the land as their own. However, there may be exceptions to this rule – potential squatters should be aware of their possible rights before deciding. Knowing these factors is critical when establishing land ownership in Badger State.

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Are There any Exceptions?

In Wisconsin, squatters’ rights don’t confer ownership unless certain conditions are met. Individuals must try to occupy the property for a minimum 12-month period to receive legal recognition. However, some exceptions allow for a shorter time frame, such as inherited property or land abandoned by the owner. Researching local laws to ensure squatters’ rights are appropriately honored is important.


Wrapping up and owning property in Wisconsin requires a keen knowledge of the rules and regulations surrounding squatters’ rights, ownership claims, and allowances. If a person is unlawfully occupying someone’s land, they can be removed by those with a valid ownership claim. There’s a lot of complexity regarding property rights, and it’s important to stay informed to ensure that you and your land are protected.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I claim squatters rights in Wisconsin?

Squatters rights in Wisconsin are known as adverse possession, and it is a complex legal process that requires adherence to state laws. Adverse possession allows individuals who actively use a piece of land for at least 10 years—paying taxes on the property or making repairs—to obtain title ownership from its former owner. To claim squatters’ rights in this manner, you must prove that your occupation is hostile (without permission) actual (you actually occupy it), open and notorious (so everyone can see what’s going on), exclusive, continuous/uninterrupted and timely according to the statute of limitations set forth by law. It is important to note obtaining proof via an attorney may be necessary in order to establish adverse possession during court proceedings.

Can you squat in any property?

No, we are not in the business of squatting. Our cash home buyers specialize in helping homeowners sell their homes without any hassle or stress. We have years of experience and expertise in making quick offers on various types of real estate transactions that produce a win-win situation for both buyer and seller alike.

What is the law of adverse possession in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin’s law of adverse possession is a legal concept permitting individuals to acquire title to certain real estate through continuous occupation and use of the property for an extended period. Under Wisconsin statute 893.28, in order for someone’s possession to qualify as ‘adverse’, it must be open and notoriously distinct from that which has been recognized by the rightful owner during a prescribed period amounting typically to 10 years or more. The claimant also has fulfill other requirements like paying all taxes due on the land before they claim ownership rights over it.

Does Minnesota have squatters rights?

Squatters rights in Minnesota are officially known as adverse possession, whereby an individual or entity can claim ownership of land they have been occupying for a certain amount of time if the property owner does not take action to challenge them. To qualify under state law, the squatter must continuously and openly occupy the land for at least 15 years without permission from its rightful owner.
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