Most people make mistakes when handling their building and construction projects because they do not understand the legal and illegal use of the land surrounding their property. One of the most common sources of conflict in real estate sharing is when neighbours make use of a portion of the adjoining property without finding out if they have the legal rights to do so. Only a competent land surveyor can determine whether you have the legal authority to use a particular portion of a piece of land or not. Here, is what you need to know about easements and encroachment.
Easements are legal rights of way. They give a person the right to make use of a part or all of another person's property for specific purposes. For example, if a lot of land was subdivided in such a manner that one part of it was locked away from the main road by the second, the law may allow the owner of the blocked property to have a path which will be cutting across the first property. The owner of the property that is close to the road cannot prohibit the owner of the locked part from using the path to access their own home. There are different types of easements, depending on the intended purpose of the land.
An encroachment happens when the owner of one piece of property decides to unlawfully access a neighbouring property, or part of it and use it for personal gains. They could construct a wall, a driveway or other structure on the adjacent property without bothering to get permission, something that will affect the usability of the encroached property.
The implications of easements and encroachments
Both easements and encroachments come with an economic cost. If you encroach a neighbouring property and they file a lawsuit against you, you may end up paying fines to cover the damages you will have caused. On the other hand, if the easement is legal, the owner of the property will have to buy and sell it factoring in the value-add or reduction of the easement.
You need to have a competent surveyor to guide you through the process of determining whether a specific structure is an easement, or someone has encroached onto your property. The surveyors study the original property maps and compare them with the current boundaries. If the two have differences, they will help you start the legal process followed in reclaiming the encroached land. They will also advise you in case there is a legal easement in place.