What Does Property Encroachment Mean?
Property Line Encroachment involves Real Estate boundary issues with your neighbor(s) or municipality. It may include a fence, storage shed, parts of buildings and expansion of existing homes, trees and other landscaping, or any assets that intentionally, or unintentionally, cross your property line either above or below the ground.
Your neighbor may not have been aware of the location of the property line. Alternatively, your neighbor may have planted trees of other landscaping that was fine 30 years ago, but now extends well beyond the property line and is currently adversely impacting your property. Of course, there are those neighbors who know perfectly well they’re Encroaching.
Property Encroachment problems are always crucial because your neighbor’s assets my prevent you from enjoying your property or using it as you see fit. However, Encroachment issues come to a head when buying or selling a home. Informed home buyers want all Encroachment problems solved before they settle on a home. Home sellers need to address Encroachment issues as much in advance as possible to avoid costly delays or the loss of a buyer.
Also, even if you have no immediate plans to sell your home and have no serious issues with an Encroachment, you need to address Property Line Encroachment problems promptly. That’s because if you don’t solve Property Encroachment problems early on, and depending on the circumstances, you could lose the title to the infringed upon property because of future claims of Adverse Possession.
Types of Property Encroachments
Minor Property Encroachments
This category generally does not have a severe impact on you. Minor Encroachments include fences, gardens, shrubbery, tree branches (depends on the circumstances), and other landscaping. Minor Encroachments are usually relatively inexpensive and easy to remedy.
Major Property Encroachments
This category includes buildings, and large tree branches that could cause significant personal and property damage on your property should they fall.
Structural Property Encroachments
This category includes something built on your property by a private party or government agency.
Categories of Encroachments are not clear-cut and can overlap. Let’s look at a common Encroachment problem that affects many property owners throughout Berks County.
- Your neighbor’s tree branches extend over your property line. In Pennsylvania, the property owner can trim those branches. If you don’t cut them, who is responsible if they fall and cause personal and property damage? Do the overhanging trees impact your home insurance rates? However, depending upon the type of tree, the tree’s location, the size and nature of the limbs you trim, you now expose an ugly view of the tree that will never improve. The unsightly tree can adversely impact the value of your property. Furthermore, significantly trimming back the branches could ultimately kill the tree. Are you responsible? Losing the tree could substantially reduce the value of your neighbor’s property. Are you accountable for that loss of property value?
- What about the tree roots that create a tripping hazard, make backyards unusable for many activities, and make your lawn difficult or impossible to mow? Can you cut them? If you do cut them, you must understand that, in most cases, these roots are the support roots that hold the tree upright. If you cut them, what if the tree falls on yours or your neighbor’s house or hurts someone? Who is responsible?
Property Line problems stir deep emotions. The scenarios above show how quickly relatively minor Property Encroachments and become complicated and often ugly.
What Should You Do if You Have an Encroachment Problem?
- The first thing to do is to have your property surveyed to verify you are correct.
- Take several pictures to document the situation.
- Take a minute to consider the problem from your neighbor’s point of view.
- Schedule a meeting with our Real Estate Attorneys, so you clearly understand your rights and possible ways to proceed.
- Solutions include
- Moving or removing the items Encroaching on your land;
- Giving written permission to your neighbor to use your property, thereby avoiding a future problem with Adverse possession.
- Leasing or selling the land to your neighbor;
- Establishing an Easement; and
- lastly, Going to court. Please understand that scheduling a meeting with us does not mean you’re planning to go to court. Going to court is your last resort and least desirable way to resolve any problem.
Armed with accurate information and an appreciation of your neighbor’s point of view, talk to your neighbor. Explain the problem. Try to come up with a friendly solution.
You Won’t Find Better Real Estate Attorneys in Reading PA and Berks County to Help You With Property Encroachment Problems
You’ll immediately know you chose the right law firm because we
- are proven Real Estate Attorneys with over 50 years of experience serving Reading, PA, Berks County, and Central and Southeastern, Pennsylvania;
- are experts in Pennsylvania and local Real Estate laws and regulations;
- can provide you with total, comprehensive protection because we have a full breadth of legal expertise including
- have a reputation for being the most family-oriented law firm in Berks County;
- explain complex Real Estate issues using plain English;
- take as much time as necessary, so you clearly understand what’s going on and what to expect next; and
- lastly, we are conveniently located in West Lawn, PA.
Call us today to discuss your needs at 610-670-9000 or Contact Us Online.
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