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How to handle property encroachment

On Behalf of | May 2, 2024 | REAL ESTATE LAW - Real Estate Disputes

Sharing a wall, a fence line or even a street with neighbors can be wonderful. It fosters a sense of community and can provide a built-in support system. However, neighborly relations can turn sour when property lines become a point of contention. If you find yourself in a situation where a neighbor is encroaching on your land, it’s important to know your options and take measured steps to address the issue.

An encroachment occurs when a neighbor builds a structure, plants vegetation or otherwise uses a portion of your property as if it were their own. This can be anything from a shed extending a few feet over the property line to a neighbor planting trees whose roots damage your foundation. When left unchecked, encroachments can become a significant problem. They can impact property value, cause structural damage and create ongoing tension with your neighbor.

Addressing a property encroachment

The first step is to document the encroachment. Take clear pictures and videos of the encroaching structure or vegetation, trying to ensure you capture the property line markers (if any). If you have access to a copy of your property survey, this can be crucial evidence.

Approach your neighbor calmly and explain that you’ve noticed what appears to be an encroachment on your property. Present your evidence, such as the pictures or survey (if available) and try to understand their perspective.

If your neighbor is reasonable and acknowledges the mistake, they might be willing to remove the encroachment themselves. In this case, consider drawing up a written agreement outlining the timeline for removal. However, if your neighbor is dismissive or unwilling to cooperate, you’ll need to take firmer steps.

Property encroachment can be stressful, but following these steps can increase your chances of resolving an issue fairly and amicably. Documenting the encroachment, initiating a conversation with your neighbor and exploring legal action are all crucial steps toward a fair resolution.