Encroachment: Protecting Your Property From Your Neighbor

home black decorative fence

As a landowner, you should know your property rights. Otherwise, you put your land at risk of boundary encroachments. When this happens, disputes are bound to arise.

How Can You Determine Encroachment?

Encroachment occurs when someone builds a structure, like a fence or a retaining wall, that overlaps to your property. It can happen intentionally or unintentionally. When it’s a case of the latter, it indicates a lack of awareness over where one’s property line starts and ends. It may also mean that the owner has the wrong information about their property boundaries.

The best way to determine your property boundaries is to get a professional land survey. A professional will have the appropriate tools and the knowledge to give you accurate information about your property. Once you’ve established where your land starts and ends, then you can mark it and declare ownership.

Define Your Property Boundary

selective focus at aluminium fence on tree background

You can define your property boundaries in several ways, but building a fence is one of the most common approaches. A fence with metal panels is an ideal choice because the material is durable and it lends beauty to your property. But be mindful of existing fence building laws in your area before erecting the structure.

Local governments normally have different requirements, especially when it comes to height and materials to be used. You fence builder should also obtain a permit from the city before building your fence. You’ll also want to inform your neighbor about your plan of having a fence. Provide an advanced notice to your neighbors, so they wouldn’t be surprised when the construction begins. A 30-day notice is typical.

Encroachment in your property would give you a hard time selling your home when that time comes. That’s why you should settle these matters before conflicts arise.

What Can You Do in Time of Encroachment?

Have a clear understanding of your property boundaries before discussing the encroachment issue with your neighbor to avoid a feud. Communicate your concerns in a calm manner to start your discussion regarding the encroachment. You and your neighbor may agree on a solution without going to court, which saves you money and time.

In case your neighbor is unwilling to remove the encroachment, however, consider selling the encroached-upon property to your neighbor. You get money from your property, while your neighbor gets to keep the structure. Work with a real estate agent to make every aspect of the sale accurate and documented.

Settle the case in court if your neighbor refuses to remove the encroachment or buy the property. This process, however, requires you to prove that you own the property and your neighbor is violating your property rights.

Getting back part of your property is easier in theory than in practice. Yes, you only need to prove that you own that part of your land. But a dispute in court could take months and cost hundreds or thousands of dollars in legal fees. Avoid the aggravation. Establish your property boundaries and keep the encroachers out.