Encroachment issues in real estate refer to situations where a property owner or occupant intrudes or extends some part of their property (such as a building, fence, driveway or other structure) onto an adjacent property or into an area identified for a specific use, such as an easement or setback. Encroachments can create disputes and legal complications between property owners.
There are several common types of encroachment issues to watch for when buying property.
This occurs when a physical structure, like a building, wall or fence, extends beyond the property line and onto a neighboring property.
Easements grant someone the right to use a specific portion of another person’s property for a particular purpose, such as utility access, road access or drainage. Encroachment onto an easement can interfere with these rights.
Setbacks are legally required distances between a building or structure and the property boundaries or certain designated areas. Encroachment into these setback zones is a violation of local zoning regulations.
Sometimes, subsurface structures like pipes, sewer lines or underground utilities may encroach onto neighboring properties. This can create access and maintenance issues.
Encroachment issues can lead to property disputes. They may require resolution through negotiation, legal action or other means. Property owners and buyers typically conduct a property survey to resolve disputes. The survey identifies property boundaries and assesses any encroachments. The average property survey costs around $500 and can provide the documentation necessary to complete the title search and ensure your property access before you buy.