Real Estate Insights November 9, 2023

What is a Encroachment?


Encroachment definition

Encroachment happens when a neighboring property builds or extends something that intrudes onto or over another owner’s property without permission.   


Takeaway 1:

Encroachment, whether intentional or unintentional, occurs when a structure or feature on one property extends illegally onto a neighbor’s land, often discovered during property inspections or surveys.

Takeaway 2:

Easements, granting limited rights to use another’s property, can be a solution, but resolving encroachment may involve discussions with the neighbor, selling easements or land, or resorting to legal action.

Takeaway 3:

Promptly addressing encroachment is essential to avoid title problems, potential liability, and other complications in the future.

If you’re settling into a new home, you might find yourself in a tricky situation with a neighbor. Encroachment, where something from their property extends onto yours without permission, can be a source of tension. It could be an unintentional overgrown hedge or a more significant problem like a garage spilling over onto your land.

Dealing with encroachment can take various forms, from amicable conversations to more formal resolutions. It’s advisable to address these issues sooner rather than later to prevent complications down the road.

So, what exactly is encroachment? In real estate, it’s like a defensive player in football crossing into the neutral zone before the snap—it’s something where it shouldn’t be. Whether it’s a neighbor’s garage, fence, roof, or tree branch encroaching onto your property, it’s considered encroachment.

Encroachment can be deliberate, such as a neighbor knowingly building on your land, or unintentional, especially when there’s uncertainty about property boundaries. To protect against encroachment, knowing your property lines is crucial. A professional land survey can verify these lines and help you avoid unintentional encroachment.

Now, let’s clear up a common confusion: encroachment vs. easement. An easement is a mutually agreed-upon right to use someone else’s property for a specific purpose, while encroachment is the unauthorized use of a neighbor’s property. However, encroachment issues can sometimes evolve into a prescriptive easement, granting legal rights after years of open use.

Resolving encroachments requires open communication with your neighbor. Minor issues can often be resolved through friendly discussions, while more complex problems might involve selling easements or land or even going to court.

Ignoring encroachment can lead to serious consequences, such as title issues when selling your home, potential liability problems, and the risk of your neighbor gaining legal rights over your property through a prescriptive easement.

In conclusion, tackling encroachment issues early is essential to prevent future complications, and seeking legal advice from a real estate attorney can provide guidance in resolving these matters. Remember, this information is for reference only and doesn’t substitute professional advice tailored to your situation.


– Jason