Discovering An Encroachment On Your Land

In the past, we discussed what encumbrances are and how they can surface during your due diligence period. We went over liens, easements, deed restrictions, and licensing issues. These are things that you should discuss with your attorney during the home-buying process, and it highlights the importance of having legal counsel. One of the things we didn’t discuss in that piece was encroachments. We want you to understand what they are and what you can do about them because you may have to deal with an encroachment after buying your house. 

What is an Encroachment?

It is when your neighbor encroaches on your land. Before you close on your home, you should have a survey on your land to define the frontage (front section of the property), sidelines (sides of the land), and the rear lot line. There will be records of your property lines, which you can find by contacting a county clerk or assessor. This is important for several reasons:

  • If you know your property lines, you will not inadvertently place a fence, shed, or any other structure on your neighbor’s land.
  • Pulling the survey before you buy the home will allow you to ensure that no one is encroaching on the land you intend to purchase. 

This is how you protect yourself. For example, if there is a large tree between you and your neighbor’s house, who is responsible for maintaining it? Who pays for removing it if it rots? The answers will be based on your property lines. 

Before or After the Sale?

Let’s use an example of a fence. (This could be easily substituted with other forms of encroachments such as retaining walls, driveways, trees, etc.) You may pull a survey during your due diligence period and realize the fence is on your land. Or, years after you have bought the home, your neighbor builds a fence on your property. If the fence is being built, start by talking to your neighbor. There is a strong possibility that your neighbor never set out to do anything malicious. Litigation is costly and emotionally draining, so use it as a last resort rather than a first step. 

You can always negotiate to receive financial compensation for the land the neighbor is using and come to terms with how they are using it. Ask your attorney about boundary-line agreements. For instance, if the fence is on your property, a boundary-line agreement may allow your neighbor to keep the fence, but you will also have a written agreement (a contract) that states you are not giving up title or ownership of the land that the fence is on. 

Speak with a Real Estate Attorney Today 

Encroachments are one example of an issue that can surface during the home-buying process. It would be best if you navigated each hurdle based on what is in your best, long-term interest. When you have an attorney assisting you, you will have a source of reliable advice that protects you and your future home. Don’t make the mistake of doing this alone. Contact Auricchio Law Offices today to schedule your free consultation.

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Auricchio Law Offices

Auricchio Law Offices in Chicago provides a complete range of real estate services. We facilitate residential and commercial real estate transactions, advise and represent condominium associations, and represent property owners in real estate litigation. Whatever your real estate issue, we will work diligently to achieve your goals in a timely and efficient manner.

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