Physical Invasion of a Neighbor's Property

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What is “Physical Invasion of a Neighbor’s Property”?

Physical invasion of a neighbor’s property occurs where one landowner’s use of their property causes an adjacent landowner to be deprived of their enjoyment of their own property.  In most cases physical invasion of another’s property is considered to be trespass, since it involves the intrusion of a physical object onto the other person’s land.

Note that even lawful activities may be considered invasion of neighboring property if the use is considered to be unreasonable.  Unreasonable use of land or property occurs where the adjoining owner is significantly deprived of their ability to use or enjoy their own land.

Is Physical Invasion considered to be Trespass or Nuisance?

The legal principle of trespass is very similar to that of nuisance.  However, there are some major differences between the two. 

First, trespass usually involves some physical object that intrudes onto the other person’s property.  It deals more with the loss of physical possession and control of some or part of the land, rather than the owner’s ability to use or enjoy their property.  Some courts have held that minute particles such as chemical fumes may constitute trespass; however, in most cases trespass must involve a physical object. 

In comparison, nuisance need not always involve a physical object.  Nuisance can involve the intrusion of non-physical objects, such as fumes, air-borne pollution, offensive odors, or even loud sounds or music.  Also, nuisance has more to do with the owner’s loss of ability to use or enjoy their land, rather than the physical loss of property possession.  

Thus, laws governing physical invasion of another’s property are likely to be classified under trespass laws.  However, many cases of property disputes may involve both trespass and nuisance, depending on the nature of the intrusion.

What are some Examples of Physical Invasion of Neighboring Property?

Physical invasion of property usually involves some form of activity that interferes with the other property owner’s rights to possession and enjoyment of their land.  Some common examples of activities that might result in a physical intrusion may include:

Also, in order to recover damages, the affected land owner must generally prove that the physical invasion is substantial, continuous, and unreasonable.  Of these factors, perhaps the most important is that the intruding activity be continuous. 

For example, a one-time intrusion of a pet onto a neighbor’s property may not be considered continuous enough to constitute a violation.  However, if the owner of the pet constantly allows the pet onto the neighbor’s land, it may be grounds for recovery in a court of law.

What are the Legal Consequences of Physical Invasion of Neighbor’s Property?

A party that is found liable for physical invasion of property may become subject to several legal consequences.  The victim in such circumstances may be entitled to the following legal remedies:

Also, it is common for the offender to have to pay fines if their activity has violated some a zoning or environmental hazard law.  They may even be subject to criminal penalties if their act was performed with criminal intent. 

Do I need a Lawyer for Invasion of Neighboring Property?

Property rights are highly protected under state and federal laws.  If you are involved in a claim for invasion of neighboring property, you may wish to consult with a lawyer for advice and representation.  If you are the property owner whose rights have been violated, your attorney can help you obtain recovery in a court of law.  Or, if are being accused of invasion of property, your lawyer can help defend you in court and can determine whether any defenses may be available for you. 

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Last Modified: 04-19-2011 02:23 PM PDT

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