When it comes to real estate, property boundaries are sacred, but what happens when a structure on one property crosses those boundaries onto another? This situation, known as an encroachment, can lead to complex legal issues and disputes. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of real estate encroachments, exploring the importance of encroachment agreements and the potential risks involved. Whether you’re a property owner or a prospective buyer, understanding encroachments is essential to protect your interests.

What Is A Real Estate Encroachment?

In the realm of real estate, an encroachment occurs when a structure that belongs to one property extends partially or entirely onto an adjacent property. This situation can arise when homeowners build structures that inadvertently cross property boundaries. Encroachments can involve neighboring properties, utility companies, cities, municipalities, or even road allowances, right of way, or easements. To determine if an encroachment exists, a Real Property Report (RPR) is often used, providing a visual representation of property boundaries and structures.

Types Of Real Estate Law Encroachments

Encroachments can take various forms, encompassing a wide range of structures and property elements. Common types of encroachments include:

  1. Fences
  2. Sheds
  3. Garages
  4. The house itself
  5. Retaining walls
  6. Additions
  7. Cantilevers
  8. Decks
  9. Patios
  10. Party walls
  11. Driveways
  12. Eaves troughs

Ways To Fix An Encroachment

Dealing with encroachments requires careful consideration and resolution. Depending on the specific encroachment, there are several ways to address the issue, including:

  1. Moving the structure
  2. Removing the structure
  3. Trimming or removing the portion of the structure that encroaches
  4. Entering into an encroachment agreement

Obligations Under an Encroachment Agreement

Encroachment agreements serve as a vital tool for resolving encroachment issues. These agreements may include various terms and conditions, but they often entail the following obligations:

  1. Liability: The owner of the encroaching structure accepts liability for any damages or injuries caused by the structure.
  2. Maintenance: The landowner with the encroaching structure is responsible for maintaining it in good condition and repair.
  3. No Right To Rebuild: In case the structure needs replacement, there is no automatic right to rebuild it in the same location where it encroaches.
  4. Obligation To Remove: Most encroachment agreements include provisions allowing the party allowing the encroachment to request its removal with notice.

Risks Of an Encroachment Agreement

While encroachment agreements can help resolve issues, they also come with potential risks and liabilities. Buyers and property owners should carefully read and understand these agreements to assess the associated risks. Private encroachment agreements may pose higher risks based on neighbor relationships and potential removal notices.

How Real Estate Lawyers Help

Real estate lawyers play a crucial role in navigating the complexities of encroachments. They can assist by:

  1. Drafting private encroachment agreements
  2. Negotiating agreements between neighbors
  3. Facilitating encroachment agreements with municipalities
  4. Registering agreements on property titles
  5. Explaining the risks and obligations under these agreements


Understanding real estate encroachments is paramount for homeowners and prospective buyers. Encroachments can lead to legal complications, but with the right knowledge and professional guidance, you can address these issues effectively. Whether it’s through encroachment agreements, structure removal, or other solutions, protecting property boundaries is essential in the world of real estate.