What Is An Encroachment In Real Estate?

Homeowners should be aware of any possible property encroachments.

Neighbor disputes are certainly not uncommon. Oftentimes, these disputes may relate to a noise complaint, a barking dog, or a variety of other reasons. For the most part, these disputes can be resolved fairly quickly and easily. However, some disputes can be a lot more complex to deal with. In particular, encroachment disputes can present unique challenges that must be addressed in an effective manner. So what exactly is the definition of an encroachment? An encroachment in real estate is when a physical structure or object extends onto another property without the permission of the owner of that property. It should be noted that an encroachment is different than an easement. Although both an encroachment and an easement involve a neighbor using land they do not own, an easement includes an agreement between both parties. For example, a property owner may not have any other access to their property without passing through an easement first.

Types of encroachment

Encroachments can typically be categorized as either minor or major issues. Some examples of these types are as follows:

  • Non-structural encroachments: These are encroachments that do not involve the construction of a physical structure, such as a tree, fence, or utility line.
  • Structural encroachments: These are encroachments that involve the construction of a physical structure, such as a fence, shed, or garage. Needless to say, these issues are more serious and should be addressed immediately. Ultimately, these types of encroachments can sabotage a potential home sale.

Causes of encroachments

  • Improper property surveys. Property surveys are used to determine the exact boundaries of a property. If a property survey is inaccurate, it can lead to encroachments.
  • Changes in property lines. Over time, property lines can shift due to factors such as erosion or flooding. This can lead to encroachments.
  • Intentional construction. In some cases, a property owner may intentionally build on another property. This is considered a trespass and is illegal.


If you believe that there is an encroachment on your property, the first step you should consider is to discuss it with your neighbor to see if it can be remedied between both parties. If this approach is not successful, you may want to contact a real estate attorney. The attorney will be able to survey the property and determine if there is an actual encroachment. If there is an encroachment, the attorney will be able to advise you on your legal options. In some cases, it may be possible to resolve the encroachment without the need for legal action. For example, you may be able to negotiate with the encroaching party to have them remove the encroachment. If the encroaching party is unwilling to cooperate, you may need to file a lawsuit.

As always, if you are buying or selling a home, it is critical to have a knowledgeable and experienced real estate agent to guide you through this complex process. Are you looking to buy or sell in the South Florida area? We can help! Contact Natasha at Live South Florida Realty, Inc. today. Also, don’t forget to download the free Florida Home Search app for your mobile device.

By natasha moore

REALTOR® with Live South Florida Realty, Inc.