What is Encroachment?
Encroachment is a real estate situation where a property owner violates contractual property rights by unlawfully entering, building, or extending structures onto their neighbor’s land without permission.
Whether the encroachment is intentional or not, the property owner is still liable for violating the contractual property rights of their neighbor.
Structural encroachment occurs when a property owner unlawfully builds or extends structures onto their neighbor’s land without permission.
- Encroachment is a real estate situation where property owners unlawfully enter, extend, or build onto their neighbor’s land. Structural encroachment differs from regular encroachment.
- Steps can be taken to avoid potential encroachment and to resolve disputes if it occurs.
- To avoid legal claims, permits can be granted to temporarily or permanently encroach onto the city’s land.
Forms of Encroachment
Discussed below are the different forms of encroachment:
1. Minor encroachment
It refers to a situation that can be solved by a simple conversation or negotiation. An example of a minor encroachment would be things such as gardens or fences that overlap property lines.
2. Major encroachment
It refers to a situation that needs to be negotiated, authorized, or taken to court. Examples of a major encroachment would be extending a building over property lines or an overhanging tree branch that could potentially cause serious injury.
- Unlawfully entering, trespassing, or walking through a neighbor’s property without first receiving permission
- Building a fence that goes past your own property line and into your neighbor’s
- Possessing a tree or hedge that has branches that cross between property lines
- Extending structures or building onto your neighbor’s land
- Extending structures or buildings onto the public domain (e.g., roads and sidewalks)
- Non-government construction that overlaps property lines
- Government construction that overlaps property lines without first notifying the owner
Steps Taken to Avoid Potential Encroachment
Violating contractual property law can result in a heap of legal charges. Before purchasing land, it is beneficial to know how to avoid potential encroachment.
1. Property surveys
When buying a new home, it is beneficial to get someone to survey the property so that potential encroachment issues may be avoided.
2. Awareness of property rights
In some circumstances, encroachment is entirely accidental. Property owners are usually unaware of the contractual property rights and may build structures onto their neighbor’s land without knowing or receiving permission.
3. Awareness of property lines
Building or extending structures is completely fine, as long as it’s on your own property. Property owners should be aware of the exact location of their neighbor’s property lines so that they do not unlawfully extend onto their land.
What To Do If You Encroach
As mentioned, encroachment is generally an accidental situation. If contractual rights are breached and encroachment occurs, steps can be taken to resolve the issue.
1. Talk to your neighbor
Encroachment can be as small as overlapping gardens. Entering into a calm discussion with your neighbor can be the best step to resolving/correcting the issue.
2. Negotiate compensation
If the structure extension is a necessity, it may be beneficial to negotiate financial compensation and land terms with the other party. Compensation will be necessary to receive permission to extend onto your neighbor’s land.
3. Sell/buy the land
For the party suffering encroachment, it may be a feasible option to sell the entire land to the other party. Vice versa for the party committing the encroachment.
4. Go to court
If the party committing the encroachment is not cooperating, the best option would be to take them to court and receive financial compensation for their unlawful actions.
In some circumstances, it is necessary to encroach onto the city’s land. In such situations, a permit is needed. Shown below are the permits that can be granted to parties that wish to encroach onto the city’s land in an authorized manner.
1. Temporary Encroachment (Residents/Businesses)
Once the above permit is granted, residents and businesses may temporarily encroach onto city land. Disposal bins, storage containers, and moving containers can be left on the city’s land.
2. Temporary Encroachment (Developers/Contractors)
Once the above permit is granted, developers and contractors may temporarily encroach onto city land. Site offices, construction trailers, and construction fences can be left on the city’s land.
3. Permanent Encroachment (Property Owners/Businesses)
Once the above permit is granted, property owners and businesses may permanently encroach onto city land. Fences, awnings, irrigation systems, and structures may be permanently left on city land.
Encroachment vs. Easement vs. Encumbrance
As mentioned above, encroachment is a real estate situation where a property owner violates contractual property rights by unlawfully entering, building, or extending structures on their neighbor’s land without first receiving permission.
Similar to encroachment, an easement is a real estate situation where a property owner is given permission by their neighbor to enter, extend, or build structures on their piece of land. To receive permission, compensation is almost always involved. An easement can be as simple as receiving permission to walk through your neighbor’s yard.
Encumbrance is any claim, liability, or charge that is attached to or binding a property that directly affects the property’s value or obstructs the usage of the property.
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