Encroachment Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Encroachment?

n. the act of building a structure which is in whole or in part on a neighbor’s property.

History and Meaning of Encroachment

Encroachment is a term used in property law to describe a situation where a property owner builds a structure that extends onto a neighboring property without the neighbor's permission. This can be a fence, a wall, or even a building. Encroachment is considered a civil offense, and the neighboring property owner can take legal action to have the structure removed.

Historically, encroachment was often resolved informally through negotiations between neighbors or through arbitration. However, with the growth of urban areas and the increasing value of property, encroachment has become a more contentious issue.

Examples of Encroachment

  1. A homeowner builds a deck that extends onto their neighbor's property, blocking the neighbor's view.
  2. A business owner builds a fence that encroaches on the parking lot of the adjacent business, impeding access to the lot.
  3. A property developer erects a building that extends over the boundary of an adjoining property, taking up valuable space.

Legal Terms Similar to Encroachment

  1. Eminent Domain - the power of the government to take private property for public use.
  2. Adverse Possession - the legal principle that allows someone who has used a piece of property without permission for a certain period of time to gain legal title to that property.
  3. Trespass - the act of entering someone else's property without permission.