What To Do When Neighbor Encroaches On Land
Ask the Real Estate Lawyer: Real Estate Law Q&A
REM ## LAW 733
By Ilyce R. Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin
Summary: What should you do when a neighbor
encroaches on your land? Several months ago, we ran a column about a case involving
adverse possession. We thought we’d run a few of the responses in today’s
column. To read more responses, or contribute your own anecdotes, please go
Q: As a trial lawyer, I’ve probably had 50 adverse possession cases -
on one side or the other.
(article continues below useful links)
I used to also teach real estate finance and every few years one of my students
would enhance their property holdings by adversely possessing someone else’s
property. The adverse possession rules are worth knowing for any serious real
This is also a big area for legal malpractice since so many lawyers tend to
do the absolute wrong thing when consulted by a client complaining of a neighbor
encroaching on their property.
As the name implies, one of the things a trespasser has to show in order to
acquire title by means of adverse possession is that his occupancy was adverse
to that of the titled owner.
All too often, when a landowner complains to his lawyer that someone is trespassing
on his property, the lawyer writes a letter telling the trespasser to get off
the property or suit will be filed. This is the exact wrong thing to do as it
merely helps the trespasser in establishing the required "adversity."
What the lawyer (or landowner) should do is send the trespasser a letter thanking
him for taking care of his property and advising that the license to use the
property is henceforth revoked (or demand payment of rent if the trespasser
wishes to continue staying where he is). If done properly, such a letter is
quite helpful in destroying that required element of "adversity" thereby
saving the landowner’s property.
There are some exceptions to the adverse possession rules. You can not adversely
possess against public lands or land owned by a government or against certain
Also, I like your articles!
Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Ilyce
R. Glink’s latest book is 50 Simple Steps You Can Take To Sell Your
Home Faster and For More Money In Any Market. If you have questions for
them, write: Real Estate Matters Syndicate, PO Box 366, Glencoe, IL 60022
or contact them through Ilyce’s website www.thinkglink.com