What is 'Encroachment'

A situation in real estate where a property owner violates the property rights of his neighbor by building something on the neighbor's land or by allowing something to hang over onto the neighbor's property. Encroachment can be a problem along property lines when a property owner is not aware of his property boundaries or intentionally chooses to violate his neighbor's boundaries.
This is also known as structural encroachment.

BREAKING DOWN 'Encroachment'

Encroachment problems are sometimes resolved with a simple conversation, but other times these problems must be taken to court. Because of this, potential homebuyers are advised to avoid properties with encroachment issues. Property owners wishing to make changes near their property lines may want to talk to their neighbors and/or have a land survey done to make sure the work falls within their own property's boundaries.


An easement is similar to an encroachment in that the use of one party's property by another party. However, easements are agreed upon by both parties and compensation is often involved, whereas encroachment is unwanted by one party.

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