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Can an encroachment cause a real estate dispute?

Hopefully our South Florida readers get along quite well with their neighbors, and the prospect of a property dispute is nonexistent. Unfortunately, however, there are many property owners who are not so lucky, and they become involved in a real estate dispute when a neighbor does something on their land that causes an encroachment on a neighboring piece of property.

First of all, what is an encroachment? An encroachment typically means that one neighbor either builds something that is crossing the property lines or has erected something that impacts a neighbor's property in a negative way. For instance, a neighbor may build an outbuilding with perfectly good intentions, only to later find out that a portion of the building crosses the legal property lines. Or, a neighbor may have a tree or other landscaping on their property that, over time, grows so large or ungainly that it crosses over to a neighboring piece of property.

Does an encroachment always lead to litigation amidst a real estate dispute? No, it does not. Some neighbors are on good terms and the encroachment may be so minimal that they reach an agreement. However, while that may be fine between the two parties who are initially involved, if either party attempts to sell their property the encroachment would need to be disclosed to any potential buyers.

Of course, if an agreement can't be reached between the parties, litigation is an option. For the offended party, the goal would obviously be to get a court order determining that, first of all, the encroachment does in fact cross onto another property and, second of all, that the encroachment needs to be removed.

Source: FindLaw, "What Can You Do About an Encroachment?," Accessed Sep. 19, 2015

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