Easements and encroachments both involve use of one person’s land by another, but they’re not the same. An easement, as you learned here on the blog a couple of weeks ago, is an authorized right to use one person’s property that is granted to someone else. As FreeAdvice Legal explains, easements are usually in writing and documented, and they generally pass from owner to owner.
An encroachment happens when someone uses another person’s property without permission. Sometimes this use is accidental: there is confusion about where the property boundaries are, and you built your fence on the neighbor’s property.
Sometimes, an encroachment is deliberate: you know you shouldn’t go through your neighbor’s yard to get to the park, but you do it anyway.
If you’re on the receiving end of an encroachment, SF Gate reports, you have the right to ask the other person to remove the encroachment. This will hopefully allow you to resolve the situation without going to court.