Easements and Encroachments - Why They Matter When You Are Buying a House

Easements and encroachments can make a huge difference when you’re making a decision about buying property at Lake of the Ozarks. Easements and encroachments both will impact how you will be able to use that property, and whether or not others will be able to use it as well. With easements and encroachments, there are two parties involved, both want access to or use of the land, but only one party legally owns the land. So what’s the difference between an easement and an encroachment? That is exactly what we will be answering in today’s blog! The biggest difference between an easement and an encroachment is whether or not the property owner is in agreement or gives permission for the other party to use the land. Here are the details.


Easement is when a property owner gives legal permission for someone else to use their land. Some of the more common examples include shared driveways, shared paths or walkways, utility lines, and even infrastructure like water lines and buried cables. Easements can be permanently attached to the property and remain with the title when the property changes owners. They can also be set for a certain number of years or for as long as the person receiving easement owns the property. Usually, the landowner received some form of financial compensation from the recipient of the easement for being allowed to use the property. 

Easements can be used in situations where it is discovered for example, that the neighbor has installed water lines without realizing they extended across the property line. If the property owner does not want to sell the property and both parties are in agreement, an easement can be given to alleviate that problem. Easements are discovered through a thorough title search at Lake of the Ozarks. That way you will know if the property you are considering buying has easements and exactly how they will limit your use of the property. You definitely don’t want to buy a piece of property with your heart set on building a pool and then come to find out there’s an easement for underground utilities going right through your yard where the pool is supposed to go! That may be a dealbreaker, and you want to know before you buy the property if that’s the case.


The above example of water lines extending across a property owner's legal property line is an example of an encroachment. That situation was resolved by getting an easement where both parties are in agreement and one party compensates the other financially for use of their property. The biggest difference with an encroachment is that one party is using land they do not own and do not have permission to use from the legal owner of the property. Without the proper research, you could be unknowingly buying a piece of property where your driveway, deck, pool, landscaping, detached garage, etc. is actually extending across your property line onto your neighbor’s. 

Encroachments don’t always happen on purpose, sometimes it could be because of a lack of a proper survey, poor communication with builders or developers, or even rocky terrain. At the Lake of the Ozarks, it is not uncommon for things like roads and water lines in a community to be laid according to the lay of the land, not following the original plats. So if the plats are not corrected to reflect where utilities and common areas actually lie, there can be a discrepancy and a legal encroachment. If an encroachment occurs for a long enough period of time without being addressed, the encroaching party can gain ongoing legal rights to access the property they do not own but are using without permission. If you buy a home at the Lake of the Ozarks with an encroachment that has been uncorrected for enough years, you will have to live with that encroachment. 

Why does it matter? 

As you can see, easements and encroachments both can have a huge impact on exactly how you can use the property you are considering buying. It’s critical to know this information before you make such a big investment.  An experienced title company at Lake of the Ozarks should understand how to discover these issues and correct them if possible or advise you if they are not correctable. When you are ready to choose who you will trust to take care of your real estate closing at Lake of the Ozarks, remember Arrowhead Title. We believe in thorough research, accuracy, and clear communication. We have been issuing title insurance at Lake of the Ozarks since 1984 and are very familiar with easement and encroachment issues that occur in the Ozarks. Let us handle your title search so you can bid on the home of your dreams with confidence knowing exactly what you will be buying and how you can use it. For more tips and information about the real estate market at Lake of the Ozarks, don’t forget to follow us on social media using the links below.

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750 Bagnell Dam Blvd Suite B
Lake Ozark, MO 65049


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