What is land encroachment?

Land encroachment is a process when someone violates an owner’s property rights. A person enters a building or a property unlawfully or extends some part of the building into someone else’s structure intentionally or unintentionally. Land encroachment is also sometimes called property encroachment, but there is a very thin line between the two.

At times people confuse land encroachment with trespassing. However, these two are different terms. Encroachment is an act where a person uses another person’s property illegally. Whereas trespassing is entering someone’s property without or against a property owner’s consent. There are three kinds of trespassing:-

  • Of person- When a person is restricted to do an activity which he previously did

  • Of chattel- an owner is disturbed using their movable property

  • Of property or land- a person enters a property or land of another person with the aim of possession.

Section 441 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 is applied to land and property encroachment. According to section 441, encroachment occurs when somebody tries to enter illegally into someone else’s property. This is done to commit an offence, threaten a person for possession of the property and stay there. On land encroachment, the penalty is provided under section 447 of IPC. If a person is found guilty, they will pay a Rs 550 fine and imprisonment for up to three months. In the following manner, law treats the encroachment:-

  • Section 441 is also applicable on trespassing on private land, and it is an offence under section 442.

  • The judiciary can either stop encroaching or restrain them.

  • The judiciary can also ask to pay compensation for encroachment as per the law. Compensation is calculated based on present land value, and loss caused.

  • To claim the damages, move the court as per Order 39 (rules 1, 2 and 3)

Penalties under the land encroachment act

Under section 447 of IPC, an encroacher will have to pay Rs 550 as a fine or/and face imprisonment for up to 3 months. The penalty will be decided according to the offence.

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