Unless there is an easement or agreement already in place, no person has the right to build any structure on his own land so that any part of that structure, no matter how small, will extend beyond his boundaries and encroach on the adjoining land of another.  This is true whether the encroachment is above or below the surface of the land.

Encroaches onto My Neighbor’s Land

At common law, a continuing encroachment is both a trespass and a private nuisance. States differ as to who must be aware of the encroachment and how to deal with the issue of removal.

My Contractor’s Encroaches onto My Neighbor’s Land

A landowner who undertakes the building of any structure on his land cannot shift responsibility to a contractor. The location of the building is the responsibility of the owner. Thus, the owner is accountable the person responsible for the encroachment of the structure being built by the contractor, who is the owner’s employee in this situation.

Will My Neighbor Own the Part of the Building That Encroaches?

No.  If you encroach upon your neighbor’s land, then your encroachment is a trespass. Although he can sue you for trespass, your neighbor will not automatically have legal title to the part of your building that is on his land.

Can a Tree Be an Encroachment?

Branches of trees extending over adjoining land are considered a nuisance.  The owner of the land that the tree is encroaching upon may cut off the branches that are hanging over his property.

What Can I Do About an Encroachment on My Land?

Since an encroachment is an invasion of your property rights, you can maintain an action for the recovery of any damages you have suffered due to the encroachment. The damage amount will depend on whether the injury to the land is permanent or temporary.  If the injury is found to be permanent, the measure will be the difference between the value of the property immediately before and immediately after the injury. If the injury is temporary, the measure will be the reasonable cost of the repairs needed to restore the property to its original condition, plus the loss to the owner of not being able to use and enjoy his property.

Can I Remove the Encroachment Myself?

An encroachment is considered to be a private nuisance. Therefore, the owner of the land may generally have a right to remove it himself.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Resolve My Encroachment Issue?

Property law is very complicated, and it varies by state. Your rights and duties may be different depending on where you live. A good real estate lawyer can help advise you of those rights and duties.