Personal Finance

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What is encroachment?

The term encroachment refers to a situation in real estate where the owner of the property intentionally or otherwise constructs or extends a building on a neighbor’s land or property, thereby violating a neighbor’s property rights. Encroachment is often a matter of disputed property lines, where a person deliberately chooses to violate his neighbor’s boundaries, or when the property owner doesn’t know his boundaries.

key takeaways

  • Encroachment occurs when a property owner invades his neighbor’s property by building or extending a structure beyond the lines of his property.
  • Homeowners may encroach on their neighbors, intentionally or unintentionally.
  • Structural encroachment occurs when an owner builds or extends a structure in a public space.
  • By conducting a land survey, boundaries and property lines can be cleared.
  • While similar, easements are voluntary and provide fair compensation to legal property owners.

understand encroachment

Property and land surveys are an important part of home ownership. Not only do they help determine property values, but they also help establish property boundaries and boundaries. Professional surveyors are responsible for completing these surveys. Many homeowners do their first research when applying for a mortgage because lenders ask them to make sure the loan matches the value of the property. Property owners can complete an investigation at any time, especially if someone is arguing or encroaching on property lines.

Most mortgage lenders require a land survey during the approval process to ensure the loan matches the property value.

Embezzlement occurs when someone crosses the boundaries outlined in the investigation and violates another owner’s property rights. Trespassing on someone else’s property is similar to trespassing, which is entering someone else’s property without their express permission. Homeowners encroach on a neighbor’s property if they build a new structure, add to an existing structure, or extend a fence beyond the legal boundary separating two properties.

Some homeowners encroach on their neighbors by deliberately overstepping their property lines. Someone who builds a fence or adds to a home knowingly does so on purpose. But in most cases, encroachment is unintentional — when the property owner doesn’t know or has misinformation about the legal boundaries. For example, a homeowner may inadvertently encroach on a neighbor’s property, allowing hedges or branches to grow beyond the property’s limits.

Structural encroachment occurs when an owner builds or extends a structure in a public realm such as a sidewalk or road. In most cases, sidewalks and residential streets are usually municipally owned public property. This means that owners who build driveways or erect landscaping components (trees, shrubs and flowers) encroaching on public property may be removed by the government. Additionally, owners may not be compensated for any damage caused by demolition of their structures.

special attention items

Because a property survey outlines the physical layout of the property, including the measurement of boundaries, misinformation included in the survey can lead to physical intrusions into neighboring land. Problems of unintentional encroachment can sometimes be resolved through simple dialogue between the parties. However, if a dispute remains over whether someone’s property rights have been violated, the issue can be taken to court.

While violations can occur without the violator’s knowledge, owners should exercise due diligence before constructing any building that may be near a boundary that separates their property from other properties. Owners looking to make changes near their property line may want to talk to their neighbors or conduct a land survey to ensure the work is within their own property boundaries.

embezzlement and easements

People often confuse encroachment with easement. Both involve owners expanding on their neighbor’s property. While encroachment is the unauthorized use of a neighbor’s property, easements are mutually agreed upon. In many cases, the party responsible for the easement compensates the other neighbor. An example of an easement can be seen when an owner explicitly allows a neighbor access to a nearby beach through his property.

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