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As a home buyer, when you start looking for your dream property, one of the most critical aspects you need to consider is the property’s boundaries. Boundary issues can arise when one property owner starts using or building upon another property without permission. This is what we call encroachment. In this article, we’ll explore what encroachment is, its types, how it affects property value, and the role of a buyer’s agent in identifying and preventing it.

Understanding Encroachment in Real Estate

Encroachment is a term used to describe the unauthorized intrusion on a neighbor’s property. It is a common issue in real estate transactions that can lead to significant legal issues for both property owners and buyers. Encroachment can occur intentionally or unintentionally when a property owner places portions of their property beyond the boundary line into their neighbor’s property or restricts their neighbor’s use of their own property.

Encroachment can happen in various ways, and it is essential to understand the different types of encroachment to avoid legal issues in real estate transactions.

Definition of Encroachment

Encroachment is an unauthorized intrusion on a neighbor’s property. It can occur when a property owner builds on or uses the adjacent property without permission. Encroachment can also happen when a feature on the property, such as a tree or fence, crosses the property line onto a neighbor’s property.

Common Types of Encroachment

There are several types of encroachment that can occur in real estate transactions. These include:

How Encroachment Affects Property Value

Encroachment can significantly affect the value of a property. If an encroachment exists, it can decrease the value of the property by making it less desirable due to the legal and financial liability. In addition, it can affect the property owner’s ability to use or sell the property in the future. It is essential to identify and resolve any encroachment issues before closing a real estate transaction to avoid legal and financial problems in the future.

Overall, encroachment is a common issue in real estate transactions that can lead to significant legal and financial problems for property owners and buyers. It is essential to understand the different types of encroachment and how they can affect property value to avoid any issues in real estate transactions.

The Role of a Buyers Agent in Identifying Encroachment

When purchasing a property, it’s essential to work with a reputable buyer’s agent who can help you identify potential encroachment issues. Here’s how a buyer’s agent can help:

Property Inspection and Assessment

During the home inspection, the buyer’s agent can review and assess the property to identify any possible encroachments. They can also review the title report and physical records to identify any potential issues.

For instance, if the property has a fence, the buyer’s agent will ensure that the fence is within the property’s boundary lines. They will also check if any part of the house or any other structure on the property is encroaching on a neighbor’s property. This can be a serious issue that could lead to legal disputes.

Reviewing Property Boundaries and Surveys

Buyer’s agents can review the property’s boundary lines and compare them with property surveys to identify any discrepancies. They can also obtain a survey of the property to ensure that the property’s boundaries are accurate.

For example, a buyer’s agent may find that the property’s boundary lines are not accurate due to a mistake made during a previous survey. This can cause problems when a neighbor claims that they own part of the property.

Negotiating with Sellers on Encroachment Issues

If the buyer’s agent identifies any encroachment issues, they can negotiate with the seller to resolve the problem before closing. This may involve removing the encroaching structure, adjusting the property line, or obtaining necessary easements.

For instance, if a neighbor’s fence is encroaching on the property, the buyer’s agent can negotiate with the seller to have the fence removed or adjusted. They can also negotiate with the neighbor to obtain an easement that allows the fence to remain in place.

Overall, a buyer’s agent plays a crucial role in identifying encroachment issues and resolving them before closing. By working with a reputable buyer’s agent, buyers can ensure that they are making a sound investment and avoid potential legal disputes in the future.

Legal Aspects of Encroachment

Encroachment can lead to legal disputes between property owners. Here are some legal aspects to consider:

Property Rights and Ownership Disputes

Encroachment can lead to disputes between property owners over property rights and ownership. Legal action may become necessary to resolve the conflict. It is important for property owners to understand their property rights and the boundaries of their property. This can be done by obtaining a survey of the property. A survey will clearly mark the property lines and prevent any confusion or misunderstandings between neighbors. Property owners should also consider obtaining title insurance, which can protect them from any losses due to property disputes.

Easements and Adverse Possession

Easements allow the property owner to use the land of another person for a specific purpose. For example, a property owner may have an easement to use a neighbor’s driveway to access their own property. Adverse possession is a legal doctrine that allows a person to claim ownership of a property if they have used it for a certain period without the owner’s permission. These legal concepts can be relevant in encroachment disputes. Property owners should be aware of any easements or adverse possession claims on their property, and consult with an attorney if necessary.

Resolving Encroachment Issues Legally

If negotiation fails to resolve the encroachment issue, legal action may become necessary. Property owners can file a lawsuit to prevent the encroachment or seek compensation for damages caused by it. It is important to document the encroachment with photographs and written statements from witnesses. Property owners should also keep records of any communication with the neighbor regarding the encroachment. If legal action is necessary, property owners should consult with an attorney who specializes in real estate law.

Encroachment can be a stressful and costly issue for property owners. However, by understanding their property rights and legal options, property owners can take steps to prevent and resolve encroachment disputes.

Preventing Encroachment Issues

It’s critical to take necessary precautions to prevent encroachment. Here are some tips:

Importance of Accurate Property Surveys

Accurate property surveys can help property owners to identify and avoid potential boundary issues. Regular surveys are recommended to establish property boundaries, and this can help to avoid future disputes.

It is important to note that property surveys should be conducted by licensed surveyors who are familiar with the local laws and regulations. This will ensure that the survey is accurate and legally binding.

Additionally, property owners should keep a copy of the survey on file and make sure that all improvements made to the property are within the established boundaries.

Maintaining and Monitoring Property Boundaries

Property owners should regularly monitor property boundaries and maintain the property to avoid any potential encroachment from natural growth, such as trees, bushes, or overgrown plants.

This can involve regular trimming of trees and bushes, removing any invasive plants, and keeping the property well-maintained. Property owners should also be aware of any changes to the surrounding area that may affect their property boundaries, such as new construction or changes to nearby roads or waterways.

Communicating with Neighbors and Establishing Agreements

Property owners should communicate with their neighbors to establish agreements on potential encroachment issues. This can involve negotiating easements, setting boundaries, or sharing the cost of boundary surveys.

It is important to establish these agreements in writing and have them legally recorded to avoid any future disputes. Property owners should also make sure that their neighbors are aware of any changes to their property that may affect the neighboring property, such as new construction or changes to property boundaries.

By taking these necessary precautions, property owners can prevent encroachment issues and maintain positive relationships with their neighbors.


Encroachment issues can have significant legal and financial implications for property owners. As a buyer, it’s essential to work with a reputable buyer’s agent who can help you identify and avoid potential encroachment problems. Taking necessary precautions, maintaining and monitoring property boundaries, and establishing agreements with neighbors can help to prevent encroachment issues in the future.