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What is trespassing in the context of real estate?

Trespassing itself is a varied concept that means slightly different things depending on the context in which it is used. When most people think of trespassing, however, they are thinking of it with regard to real estate. In this context, it means that someone comes onto the land or property of another without the consent of the owner. Trespassing can become both a civil or a criminal matter.

Criminal charges of trespassing are usually related to additional charges when vandalism or other damage has occurred on a property. A civil lawsuit involving trespassing would mean that the landowner is suing a person who allegedly trespassed and caused some type of monetary damage in doing so. A civil trespassing suit does not require any type of criminal activity to have occurred.

For trespassing to occur, there typically has to be some type of intent on the part of the person doing the trespassing. Simply wondering accidentally onto another person's land isn't trespassing. However, if land is fenced and you climb over the fence -- even if you don't know who the landowner is and how they would feel about you doing so -- that might be considered trespassing. The fact that the fence is there is seen as a notification that you are supposed to stay out.

Other notifications that you should stay out of property include posted signs and verbal requests not to enter. When these types of notifications are ignored, then trespassing might occur, though there are cases where the owner has given expressed or implied consent for entry. If you are involved in a trespassing dispute as a land owner, consider seeking the advice of a real estate lawyer about how you can protect your rights and seek compensation if your property was damaged.

Source: FindLaw, "Trespassing Basics," accessed Sep. 16, 2016

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