Garden of roses behind the black iron fence. Focus on foreground.

Encroachments are unpermitted intrusions onto another’s property by objects or structures. They are often small compared to the overall size of the property, but they can ruin the entire purpose or appeal of the property. Fortunately, there are legal solutions in many cases — but they are sometimes complex. 

If you own commercial or residential property and are dealing with an encroachment issue, contact Levy Goldenberg LLP for aggressive representation through litigation. We vigorously pursue the most optimal case resolutions for our clients and do not back down. Contact us today to discuss your case with real estate attorneys who care. 

Are you dealing with an encroachment?

Encroachments are often confused with other types of land-intrusion issues, such as easements. An easement is a right to use a part of someone’s land for a limited purpose, such as to access another piece of land. However, an encroachment is a specific type of unpermitted land intrusion, such as:

  • A structure or part of a structure
  • Landscaping
  • Parking lots or structures
  • Fencing

In many cases, encroachments occur out of a misunderstanding of the location of property lines. In other instances, a malicious motive underlies the encroachment. Regardless, as a property owner, you have the right to take action. 

How to Deal With Encroachments

Encroachments are notorious because they can technically lead to property rights under New York’s adverse possession laws. In New York, as in many other states, if you encroach onto someone’s land for a period of ten years or more, you can claim the encroached property as your own. 

However, the encroacher must reasonably believe that the property is theirs in order to gain possession of the property through encroachment. If the encroacher at any time knows or should have known that the property wasn’t theirs, they can not gain the encroached property through adverse possession.

Take Swift Legal Action

Because it is technically possible to lose property through an encroachment, property owners must take swift action to deal with encroachers or risk losing their land. Anyone in the market for real estate is equally in need of protection. Encroachment issues can sour a dream property purchase, but they can be discovered through due diligence.

Speak With an Attorney

Whether you own property with an encroachment issue or are considering buying property with a problem, hiring an attorney to represent you will offer great protection for your interests. 

To deal with an encroachment on land you already own, litigation can be effective. Your attorney will get to work immediately and:

  • Get your property surveyed
  • File an emergency order for injunctive relief against the encroachment
  • Represent you in a court hearing in certain cases

In reference to a property survey, once the lines of a property are officially determined, the nature of the encroachment will be revealed. It may not be an encroachment at all if the property line is not violated. However, if there is indeed an actionable encroachment, the affected property owner can seek an order (injunction) from the court to remove the structure. 

Depending on the circumstances, the court may decide to award monetary damages instead of issuing an injunction. The damages award will take into account the monetary losses suffered by the affected property owner due to the encroachment. 

Your attorney will also give you important legal guidance on how to behave in relation to the encroachment. In most cases, tearing down or removing an encroachment on your land is not a recommended course of action unless it presents an imminent danger. Even so, you may still end up in jail or face property damage charges or liability.

Work It Out 

After reviewing your case, your attorney may initially suggest some avenues that may help you and your neighbor work out a solution. Real estate litigation is expensive and time-consuming. With poignant guidance from your attorney, you may be able to persuade your neighbor to accept a compromise. 

One potential solution your attorney might suggest is to offer to sell the encroached property to the encroacher. Depending on your situation, selling could either be a satisfactory result or not remotely acceptable.

Keep in mind that while the path of litigation is an effective way to deal with encroachment, it could lead to unintended consequences. For example, litigation could lead your neighbor to commission their own survey, which may yield different results from the survey you commissioned. 

A divergent property survey result can put your property in further danger if it shows the neighbor’s property to be larger than previously thought. The neighbor may then decide to act on the new property lines and expand their building. 

Whatever the circumstances, the stakes are often high in encroachment cases. Property owners need legal protection and guidance for encroachment issues and should consult with an experienced attorney before taking action. 

Encroachment Dispute Lawyers With Solutions

Levy Goldenberg utilizes creative and effective solutions to obtain the most optimal resolutions for its clients’ issues. Residential and commercial property owners in Suffolk and New York Counties can rely on Attorneys Levy and Goldenberg to aggressively litigate their issues until a satisfactory solution is reached. Contact our office today for a consultation.