Encroachment – Definition

Cite this article as:"Encroachment – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated September 10, 2019, last accessed October 20, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/lesson/encroachment-definition/.

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Encroachment Definition

Encroachment, also known as a structural encroachment, is a term used in the real estate industry when the owner of a property voluntarily or involuntarily builds something across the neighbor’s boundary lines, hence, breaching his or her neighbor’s property rights. This usually happens when the owner of the land or property doesn’t know the boundaries of his or her property, or deliberately opts for contravening his or her neighbor’s property.

A Little More on What is Encroachment

Encroachment involves violating the set property rights of the affected party. A property owner, who does trespassing and enters his or her neighbor’s property anyhow, is considered to encroach on the land or property of neighbor. Trespassing takes place when the land owner makes entry into his or her neighbor’s land, or constructs something that goes beyond the legal boundaries that differentiate two properties. For instance, encroachment can involve creating a fence or wall that goes beyond the boundaries of property, or a tree or a hedge growing beyond the given area of property.

It is the choice of a property owner to either deliberately or undeliberately enter the property of his or her neighbor. Most of the times, encroachment takes place in an unknowing manner when the land owner is not familiar with the exact property boundaries, or has a little information about the property that he or she can call his or her own on legal basis. A property survey gives insights about the actual boundaries of a property such as its size in meters and bounds. And if there is invalidity involved in the property survey that was conducted on the property, and further used by the land owner for renovating the property, it is possible that the property owner unknowingly enters his or her neighbor’s property. Both the parties can resolve such problems by simply conversing and discussing about the matter. In case, both parties are still struggling on arriving at a resolution, then the court may have to intervene.

It is recommended for prospective land buyers to not go for properties or sites with encroachment problems. To be on a safer side and make a sound investment, they should consider analyzing property surveys that offer details such as directions, buildings, roads, if any renovations were made to the nearby properties, etc. Also, such surveys inform if the home they are planning to buy, or the one in their neighborhood has any encroachments. In case, the homebuyer wants to assess the home boundaries and the related information from scratch, instead of relying on the information provided in the current survey, he or she can ask for a surveyor’s services.

When the property owner ends up creating or extending something that cause disruption on the roads, it results in structural encroachment. Mostly, the municipal authorities have the right over sidewalks and residential streets. So, if a homeowner creates a driveway, or extends trees, branches or flowers that ultimately encroach on the government property, the government has the full authority to get those structured eliminated. Being it the property owner’s negligence, he or she will not receive any compensation from the government in case such removal activities cause damage to his or her property.

Encroachment vs Easement

People usually confuse encroachment with easement, however, they are two different terms with different meanings. Where in an easement, both the landowner and the neighboring party agree on the extension of property, encroachment refers to using the property of neighbor in an unlawful manner. However, both these terms are used frequently in the real estate industry. For example, if a neighbor allows the land owner to have a sight of the beautiful beach, it will be considered as an easement.

As it is possible that the property owner has no idea about the property boundaries that create an extent of separation between his/her and neighboring properties, encroachment can take place. When they plan to bring some editions or renovations in the surrounding property areas, they should discuss those changes with the neighbors so as to ask for their approval. Also, the landowner can ask a surveyor to conduct a land survey in order to ensure that the work lies within the set property limitations.

Reference for “Encroachment”


https://www.investopedia.com › Investing › Real Estate

https://www.myaccountingcourse.com › Accounting Dictionary


https://finance.zacks.com › Real Estate › Buying a Home

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