by Laura Mueller
Trespassing is a common worry among landowners, especially those with lots of acres or who aren’t living on their property full-time.
In many cases, trespassing may not be a big deal—or even a purposeful act on the part of the trespasser—but it’s still normal to want to take any action you can to prevent it from happening. Here’s what to know about trespassing, including some ways that you might be able to keep it from occurring in the first place.
What is trespassing?
In legal terms, “trespass to land” refers to when an individual or an object belonging to an individual enters your property without permission or a lawful reason to do so. It can be as simple as your neighbor accidentally crossing the boundaries into your property or allowing a physical item—such as a soccer ball—into your property. It can also be more serious, such as an unknown trespasser who not only enters onto your property but causes purposeful damage to it.
You do have legal recourse for trespassing so long as you can prove entry and intent (and in some states, direct damages). However, not all forms of trespassing warrant a legal response, and in almost all cases, it’s much easier to take step to prevent trespassing instead of dealing with it later on.
Tips for keeping trespassers out
If you’re worried about trespassers, then there are some things that you can do to hopefully keep them from coming on to your property. While there are no guarantees, these steps should reduce the likelihood of a trespass occurring, and if it does, can be helpful for proving intent later on.
1. Put up signs
One of the simplest things that you can do is to put up “No Trespassing” signs around the border of your land. Not only does this provide any potential trespassers with the knowledge that the land is privately owned and not to be accessed, it also helps establish where your borders start and end, which can help prevent accidental trespassing too.
2. Set up cameras at access points
Technology has made it easier than ever to monitor your land, even when you’re not physically present. Consider investing in motion-triggered outdoor cameras that will notify you if anyone is at an access point—or worse, crossing through.
3. Establish rapport with your neighbors
It’s always a good idea to get to know your neighbors, but if you need an extra reason to do so, consider that establishing a relationship with them means having another set of eyes for monitoring your property. It also makes it much more likely that if they need to step foot on your land for any reason, they’ll contact you about it directly instead of just coming over the boundary lines.
4. Add barriers
Like “No Trespassing” signs, fences, plant borders, and other types of screens all serve as physical guides for where your land begins and ends. They can also serve as effective barriers to trespassers. If you’re going the natural route, just make sure to opt for perennials instead of annuals so that you’re not tasked with redoing your barriers year after year.
If trespassing does happen, take action by calling your local police station and filing a report. Depending on the situation, you may want to avoid apprehending the trespasser(s) yourself, particularly if you do not know them personally.
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