A license is a personal privilege (not a right) to enter the land of another for a specific purpose. A license can be terminated or canceled by the licensor (the person who granted the license) at any time.

  1. If the use of another’s property is given orally or informally, it generally is considered to be a license rather than a personal easement in gross.
  2. A license ends on the death of either party or the sale of the land by the licensor.

An encroachment occurs when all or part of a structure (such as a building, fence, or driveway) illegally extends beyond the land of its owner or beyond the legal building lines.

An encroachment usually is disclosed by either a physical inspection of the property or a spot survey.

Spot Survey
A spot survey shows the location of all improvements located on a property and whether they extend over the lot or building lines onto an adjoining property or an improvement on an adjoining property extends onto the property being surveyed. A spot survey is more informational and useful than a simple survey sketch with only the lot dimensions. If a spot survey and physical inspection show that a building encroaches on adjoining land, the neighbor may be able to either:

  1. recover damages,
  2. or secure removal of the portion of the building that encroaches,

Unchallenged encroachments that last beyond a state’s prescriptive period, however, may give rise to easements by prescription.