Enclosure Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Enclosure, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Enclosure?

(inclosure)n. land bounded by a fence, wall, hedge, ditch or other physical evidence of boundary. Unfortunately, too often these creations are not included among the actual legally described boundaries and cause legal problems.

History and Meaning of Enclosure

The term "enclosure" has a long history in English land law, and refers to the process of taking what was once common land and dividing it into private property for individual use. This practice began in medieval times, but gained steam during the 18th and 19th centuries as landowners sought to increase profits by enclosing land previously used for grazing or subsistence farming. Enclosure was typically accomplished by building fences, walls, or ditches around the land in question, and often led to displacement and economic hardship for the common people who relied on the land for their livelihoods.

Today, the term "enclosure" is still used in legal contexts to refer to land that is bounded by a physical barrier such as a fence, wall, or hedge. However, in some cases there may be discrepancies between the actual boundaries of the land and the legal description of those boundaries, leading to potential legal problems.

Examples of Enclosure

  1. The farmer erected a sturdy fence around his property to keep his animals from straying onto neighboring land.
  2. The subdivision developer was required to build a wall along the edge of the property to provide privacy for the residents.
  3. The park was popular with hikers because of its many trails, but portions of the land had been enclosed by nearby property owners.
  4. The city council approved a plan to enclose a section of the beach for private use by a hotel chain, sparking protests from local residents.
  5. The homeowner built a beautiful garden with a tall hedge enclosure, providing privacy and security for the family.

Legal Terms Similar to Enclosure

  • Boundary: a line or physical feature that separates one piece of land from another.
  • Easement: a legal right to use someone else's land for a specific purpose, such as accessing a driveway or water source.
  • Deed: a legal document that describes the ownership of a piece of property and any encumbrances or restrictions on its use.
  • Adverse Possession: a legal doctrine that allows someone who has used someone else's land for a certain period of time (usually 10-20 years) to claim ownership of the land if no objections are made by the legal owner.
  • Zoning: a local government regulation that divides land into different use categories (such as residential, commercial, or industrial) and sets rules for how those categories can be developed and used.