What exactly is property encroachment? Encroachment happens when a certain improvement extends onto and over the boundary line of a neighboring property.
One of the most common types of encroachment is structural encroachment – this is when a part of a building extends over the property line. However, gardening beds as well as fences also are constructed over the line and are considered an encroachment as well.
Why do encroachments happen? More often than not, an encroachment is an honest mistake. It might be that the previous owner or contractor miscalculated and thought they were building on their property, or the wrong pin may have been used. Without a survey, this happens more than you would think.
There are several ways to deal with encroachments. The easiest way is to politely ask your neighbor to remove the encroachment. This is not usually a big problem if it’s only a flower bed or something else that can easily be removed.
If it’s a fence or a part of a structure, you can strike up an agreement and have the other party pay rent for the part of your property that was encroached. Another option is to sell the “encroached” property to the other party so they’re free to use it.
If you would rather use your property, you can go to court and plead your case. This is the most expensive option usually. An early agreement is much better for both sides.
This is exactly why a land survey is very important if you’re going to buy property. When it comes to an encroachment, the earlier you address the problem, the better. This is because of the Adverse Possession laws.
This law states that if someone openly uses a piece of property for a certain period of time and pays taxes for it, among other requirements, they could claim possession of the property and be awarded ownership.
Please note though that each state has different property encroachment laws so it’s best that you talk to a lawyer and a local land surveyor.