Encroach Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Encroach?

v. to build a structure which is in whole or in part across the property line of another’s real property. This may occur due to incorrect surveys, guesses or miscalculations by builders and/or owners when erecting a building. The solutions vary from giving the encroaching party an easement or lease (for a price, usually) for the lifetime of the building, or if the structure is small, actually moving it onto the owner’s own property.

History and Meaning of Encroach

The term "encroach" refers to the act of building a structure that extends across the property line of another’s real property. Encroachment occurs when the builder or the owner of a structure makes a mistake in his calculations or misunderstands the property boundary. Encroachments can cause disputes between neighbors, and are usually resolved by giving the encroaching party an easement or lease for the lifetime of the building or by moving the structure onto the owner’s property.

Examples of Encroach

  • If a homeowner builds a fence that extends onto his neighbor's property, he is said to be encroaching on his neighbor's land.
  • A developer who constructs a building that crosses the boundary of his property and extends onto an adjacent property is also said to be engaging in encroachment.
  • If a person parks their car in a space that is designated for their neighbor or in a space that blocks their neighbor's driveway, it is considered to be encroachment.

Legal Terms Similar to Encroach

Some legal terms related to encroachment include:

  • Adverse Possession: Occurs when someone who does not own a property claims ownership after using it continuously and without dispute for a certain period of time.
  • Easement: A legal right given to someone to use another's property for a specific purpose.
  • Trespass: The act of entering someone else's property without permission.