In general, buying or selling property is a fairly drama-free affair. That is, until your neighbour claims that you have encroached on his property. That is where all the fun begins. Actually, a friend has actually experienced this. He had a fence built around his newly bought house, only to find out later that his fence to the right actually sat on his neighbour’s property.
Lucky for him, it was just a simple fence. If the encroaching structure was anything bigger than that, it would have been a pretty costly proposition. You can only imagine how much of a hassle it would have been for him if the encroaching structure was a veranda or eaves that cross into the airspace of his neighbor. Even worse would be if the encroaching structure was a swimming pool that he has poured a lot of money into.
The thing is, property encroachment can actually be avoided before it happens. If you want to avoid encroaching on your neighbours, we’d like to share some tips in that regard.
Get a land survey done
There are a number of reasons why it’s important to conduct a land survey first before settlement, and the possibility of encroachment is just one of them. An encroachment, of course, can go both ways. It could be you’re the one guilty of encroachment on a neighbour’s property, or you’re actually the one whose property is being encroached upon. With a land survey, the encroachment would have been exposed early on and the contract would have been terminated.
Seek legal advice for house and land contracts
Come to think of it, this tip goes for any and all contracts that you get into. It is important to have your lawyer check the nitty-gritty details of the house and land contract, and only sign it when your lawyer finally gives you the green light.
Land and building contracts must be separate
It is pretty common for many property buyers and sellers to just tack a few building specifications onto the land contract, but we have seen complications arise from this over the years. To avoid such complications, you have to make sure that land and building contracts are separate.
Prevention is always better than any cure, and this adage applies to property encroachment as well. Remember that if you’re the encroacher and there is evidence that supports that, you will have to resolve the situation by paying for the land, and for the Council and survey fees for a boundary realignment.
On a more positive note, if the encroachment was because of mistakes committed by the builder you contracted to put up the encroaching structures, you can actually file a claim against that builder. You can even claim negligence on the part of the builder. By filing claims against the builder, you have a chance of recovering your very own losses.
Still, going through all that is just not worth the hassle. If you want to avoid all that trouble, then you should have a full property investigation conducted before signing any contract. If you have any questions relating to encroachment and other property law issues, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of lawyers who specialise in the field.