Are You Trespassing on Your Neighbor’s Land?
WHAT IS TRESPASSING?
“Trespassing” means making an unauthorized entry onto land or property which belongs to another person, in a way that disrupts or interferes with the owner (or possessor)’s exclusive right to possession and control.
In plain English: trespassing involves:
1. An entry onto “the land of another” – which may mean either land that someone else owns or land that someone else has the right to control.
2. Entering onto the land in a way that interferes with another person’s legal rights to exclusive possession and control of the land.
TRESPASSING DOES NOT REQUIRE PHYSICAL ENTRY ONTO THE LAND
Most people think “trespassing” requires a person to enter someone else’s land. However, this is not the case. By law, a person can “enter” property by throwing or placing objects–or even substances, such as paint or liquids–onto the land of another. It doesn’t matter whether or not the entry causes harm. Merely entering (or causing an object or substance to enter) land without permission constitutes trespass.
Any physical entry or intrusion onto someone else’s property can constitute a legally recognized trespass, even if the entry causes no harm to the property.
Intangible intrusions, such as light, noise or vibrations, can also constitute a legally recognized trespass–but only if the intrusion causes physical damage to the land. Intangible intrusions onto land are more commonly considered “nuisances” and treated as such under the law.
UNINTENTIONAL TRESPASS IS STILL ACTIONABLE UNDER THE LAW
A plaintiff does not have to prove that the defendant intended to trespass or cause harm to the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s land. The only intent a plaintiff must prove is that the defendant intended to be at the place on the land where the trespass occurred.
A defendant may be held legally responsible (and liable) for trespass even if the defendant acted in good faith or under the mistaken belief that he or she was not trespassing. In other words: it doesn’t matter whether or not the defendant “didn’t know” that he or she was trespassing at the time the trespass happened.
TAKE CARE TO AVOID UNINTENTIONAL TRESPASS
It’s easy to trespass on neighbors’ land without realizing–or intending–that the action constitutes a trespass. Take care to avoid even unintentional trespasses–otherwise, you may find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit.
DISCLAIMER: This article is intended for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice to any person or entity, and does not create an attorney-client relationship with any person or entity. Trespass, nuisance, and premises liability are complex legal topics, and no single article can provide complete or comprehensive coverage or information about this or any other legal topic or issue. Your personal liability may differ, based on your individual facts and circumstances. If you believe you have a legal claim or issue, or wish to know more about your individual rights, consult an experienced attorney immediately.