In California, an encroachment is typically considered to be a building or other structure beyond the boundaries of land on which it was rightfully constructed, onto adjoining land, without the permission or consent of the adjoining landowner. Simply stated a typical encroachment exists when your neighbor builds an improvement on their property which goes over their property line onto your property’s borders.
If your neighbor builds an encroachment onto your property, what should you do about it? The obvious first step would be to attempt to work it out with your neighbor. However, if your neighbor refuses to remove the encroachment, you would then probably have to commence a legal action to recover damages, for injunctive relief to obtain a court order to have the encroachment removed, or both.
In evaluating whether or not to have the encroachment removed, the court, which has discretion whether to grant or deny an application for an injunction, will evaluate many factors including, but by no means not limited to:
Whether or not the encroachment is temporary in nature or permanent;
The amount of time that has passed since the encroachment first appeared;
Whether, when the encroachment was built, the encroachment was done intentionally or unintentionally;
The expense and/or difficulty in removing the encroachment;
The impact of the encroachment on the encroached property.
Further, in California, there is a statute of limitations that applies to encroachments, which means that if you are going to commence a legal action for damages or to obtain a court order to have the encroachment removed, you do not have an unlimited amount of time to commence that action. Therefore, if you think your neighbor has built an encroachment onto your property, it is critical that you immediately consult with an attorney and if necessary, commence legal action.
I represent clients in Oakland, California, Walnut Creek, California and throughout the East Bay Area, regarding various types of boundary disputes including encroachments. If you have questions, or need representation by a California real estate attorney involving an encroachment dispute or another type of property dispute with your neighbor, please feel free to contact me to discuss your situation or to arrange for a consultation at (510) 465-0025.