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Encroachment, in real estate, is when a property owner violates the property rights of his neighbor by building or extending a structure to a neighbor’s property. This happens most often when a property owner is not aware of his property boundaries. It is also sometimes referred to as structural encroachment, and brings about a violation of the property rights of the affected property owner. Examples of encroachment include building a fence or wall that crosses property lines, or having a tree or hedge overgrow into the neighbor’s property.

Unintentional encroachment is much more common than intentional encroachment, simply because many homeowners don’t know where their property lines are. Most often, the cause of this is an incorrect property survey. A property survey outlines the physical layouts of a property, including the measurements of metes and bounds, and an incorrect measurement could lead to unintentional encroachment on another property. The best way to avoid encroachment is to have a property survey done every time you want to make an addition that could lead to encroachment. You can also look into property surveys for surrounding properties so you know if there are any encroachments listed on a property or a neighbor’s property. Potential homebuyers should avoid encroachment issues, because while some disputes can be solved by a conversation between neighbors, encroachment can quickly snowball into an issue that drags you into court.