In our next addition to our series on encumbrances, Robert Rico discusses Encroachments. They’re that dreaded invasion on your property from others who are making a land grab. Learn everything you need to know about Encroachments and see if you’re at risk of losing a piece of your land. Subscribe here!
What are Encroachments?
Owning land comes with a lot of responsibility. You have to maintain the property, pay taxes, and occasionally keep tabs on who’s accessing it. When a piece of land goes unmonitored for a long enough period of time, you could be at risk of losing it.
Everyone knows an encroachment as a defensive penalty in football. But, we’re talking about real estate terminology, here. When applied to the industry, it’s when a person’s property is being intruded on. Interestingly enough, there’s a bit of crossover between the football term and the real estate term.
How Encroachments Are Applied to Your Property
Often times, neighbors will want more privacy on their property, so they will install a fence. Other times, neighbors will want more land, so they will install a fence.
This classic feuding neighbors scenario is the perfect example of an Encroachment.
Using this example, when a neighbor installs a fence over the property line, onto the other neighbor’s land, they are encroaching on their property. That’s why it’s important to know the property line of your land when installing fences anywhere.
There’s another type of encroachment that is observed often. Adverse Possession is the occupation of another person’s land with the intent on owning it. The slang version of this word is “squatter’s rights,” which is often more familiar with people.
An example of adverse possession is when one person uses another person’s property for storage. If they have an abundance of land, finding where the property line is placed would be challenging. If someone takes advantage of this, and stores excess property on their land for a specific period of time, they could then own that piece of property.
In California, if someone is occupying another person’s land for 5 years or more, they can own that property.
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A Nonpossessory Interest is an agreement between two parties that expresses one person’s intention to use another person’s land. For example, when a person wants to use their neighbors land for storage or parking, they would have a nonpossessory interest in their neighbor’s property. The agreement to use the land can be made through a contract or through a verbal agreement.
If you’ve rented an apartment or house, then you are familiar with possessory interest, but might not know it. Possessory Interest is when one person expresses occupancy in a particular piece of land. For example, when renting an apartment or house, you would be expressing possessory interest in the property. After expressing the interesting in occupying the property, you could create a contract that will arrange the agreement between parties.
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A plat map is a documentation of how a piece of land is divided up by ownership. There will also be information on the local topography of the area. Having a plat map is useful in understanding where your property is in relation to someone else’s property. Moreover, while using a plat map, you can put an end to those cliché property feuds with your neighbors.
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