What Does "Encroachment" Mean In Real Estate?
When you own a home or you are preparing to purchase a home, you do not want anyone to have their personal property on what is supposed to be your property. But boundary issues happen, and they can be ugly. There is a term for this battle of land: “encroachment.”
An encroachment happens when a fence or another piece of your neighbor’s property crosses the property lines. Other examples of encroachments could involve trees, parts of a building, fencing or any other fixtures located on both pieces of property.
Oftentimes, the encroachment will be intentional. This usually happens when neighbors do not get along. However, there are times when the government will be the one doing the encroaching. In these cases, the government will need to have a zoning permit.
What should a property-owner do if his or her property is encroached upon? If you are dealing with a neighbor, you might try being polite first. You can request that the encroachment be removed or that the person who is doing the encroaching lease the property from you. Sometimes they are not aware of the encroachment. Another option is to sell the land to your neighbor -- or, as a last resort, you can take the person to court and have it removed by a court order.
If the encroachment is found during the sale of a home, the seller may be able to work with whomever it is that owns the land where the encroachment is located and either have the encroachment removed or resolve any issues to be sure the title
is clear at the time of closing. It is important that any and all encroachments be found before the closing occurs -- otherwise, the encroachment could become a legal nightmare.
It is common to find mistakes when dealing with property boundary lines. They can happen due to the land surveyor making a simple error, and sometimes property erosion can change the boundary line. How the encroachment happened is of less significance than documenting the encroachment and how the issue is resolved.
If property boundary encroachments are found, they can usually be resolved through an adjustment of a boundary line or an easement
that will be documented on the title (deed
) as well as the Purchase and Sale Agreement. Once the sale has been closed, the property owners can move on in and not have to worry about arguing with the neighbors about what is on whose property -- which never makes for a good relationship when you are living closely to someone.
Related real estate articles on Encroachment: