Encumbrance on Title

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Encumbrance on Title

As soon as you’ve moved into homeownership, you’ll likely want to make some improvements to the house, such as adding a swimming pool. In your decision-making process, however, you discover you cannot install a pool due to a restriction.

Besides ruining your pool party plans, encumbrances refer to any restriction limiting a property’s use or ownership. In this article, Encumbrance on Title, you will learn what you need to know about encumbrances in real estate. By doing so, you will manage your expectations as a homeowner more realistically.


Encumbrances On Titles: What Are They?

Any legal claim, liability, restriction, or restriction on the property’s ownership or use is an encumbrance. And it comes with a wide array of rights and interests that may limit the transfer of property or its use.

An encumbrance can take many forms, including:

  • A mortgage,
  • Lien,
  • Easement,
  • Restrictive covenant,
  • And judgment.

It’s the norm that encumbrances are drafted and recorded on public records. This makes them legally enforceable and easily visible to prospective buyers and lenders.

Encumbrances can hurt a property’s value, marketability, and potential uses. Before engaging in any transaction, identifying and understanding any encumbrances associated with a property is essential for buyers, sellers, and lenders.


Encumbrances: How They Work

Encumbrances, which can include mortgages, liens, easements, restrictions, judgments, and easements, affect the property owner’s rights by placing restrictions or burdens on their rights.

Property encumbrances suggest that the value or use of a property may be adversely affected by other limitations or obligations.

Encumbrance in real estate confers certain rights to third parties, such as the right to access a part of the property. Mortgage encumbrances prohibit the borrower from selling the property if the loan defaults. Encumbrances influence the marketability and value of a property. This is why buyers and sellers must identify them before making a transaction.

Assuming or addressing encumbrances is a buyer’s responsibility, while disclosing them to a buyer is the seller’s responsibility. A lender will also typically perform a thorough title search to identify encumbrances before approving a mortgage.


Is an easement an encumbrance?

Yes, an easement is considered a type of encumbrance on a property. An easement grants a non-possessory right in the land to a third party, which gives the use of it for a particular reason without actually owning the land. This could include the right to access the property, set up utilities, or use this land to serve a specific use.

An encumbrance is a legal word that refers to the claim of obligation about the property that might impact the transferability of that property.

An encumbrance may be in various forms, such as liens, easements, mortgages, and even land-use restrictions. For instance, the term lien could be put on a property by a creditor to guarantee repayment of a loan or easement, and an easement could allow a neighbor to use a part or the entire property to provide utility or access reasons.

An easement is a particular encumbrance that allows a person to use a part of the property for a specific use. The easements can be divided into two classes: affirmative as well as negative easements. Affirmative easements permit the owner to build or do something on the land, like constructing fencing and planting trees. Negative easements prohibit the owner from engaging in activities usually allowed, such as fishing or hunting.


Various Types of Encumbrances

What is an encumbrance in real estate? Encumbrances can affect a home in various ways. Every property is likely to have at least one. Not all are deal-breakers, but they somehow restrict or limit property.


Encumbrances: Liens

Liens are types of monetary claims against real estate. The lien is a security for a property owner’s debt or obligation. Liens affect the title to the property.”

A property lien means that the creditor may sell the property if a financial obligation is not met within a specified period.

A mortgage is technically a lien: If you default on your loan, it represents a lender’s claim on your property. It isn’t a big deal since the seller usually pays off the mortgage lender with the buyer’s money during the closing. However, other property liens make the property title no longer clear. Prohibiting the seller from concluding a sale or requiring the buyer to take care of the lien.


Zoning encumbrance

Because of legal encumbrances, you may live next to other families rather than a business. Zoning laws are one example of a legal encumbrance, whereas a zoning law is another. You might have to get permission to build specific structures on your property without getting permission if you have legal encumbrances.

Additionally, if your property doesn’t comply with environmental regulations. It may be restricted from using sure water, septic, and power systems.

As a rule, real estate professionals do not consider zoning regulations encumbrances but rather restrictions on use by operation of law that apply to all properties in a particular area rather than individual properties.



It’s generally a limited or specific use or purpose associated with an easement on real estate.

Easements come in two forms.

  • An easement in gross allows your property’s use without affecting its ownership. An example would be utility easements, where a gas company could place a pipeline or an electric utility could put power lines on your property.
  • Appurtenant easements are created when two properties share a space. For instance, building a driveway that passes through your neighbor’s property would be an example of a shared easement. The path to the park could be in the backyard, or a set of stairs leading to the beach could be in the backyard.


The encroachment

As its name implies, encroachment occurs when someone does not own a property and interferes with it physically. It is not uncommon for encroachments to lead to legal disputes. A homeowner whose property is infringed upon might be able to sue the other owner for damages or order them to remove the encroachment if it is across a surveyed boundary line. Title transfer issues can result if these problems go unresolved.


Covenants of restrive

In technical terms, real estate encumbrances types and restrictive covenants aren’t encumbrances but constitute limitations. They are agreements to follow the rules of a community. In addition to setting rules for the homes within a neighborhood, homeowners associations can also place them on new constructions to ensure that each home adheres to specific requirements.


The lease

Property owners and renters enter into a lease agreement to grant the latter access to the property for a set period. The lease has the right to continue using the property under the lease terms. A lease can guarantee that the lease won’t be affected by the sale of the property for at least the duration of the lease.


How do Encumbrances Affect Market Value?


How do Encumbrances Affect Market Value?


Desirability decreases

An encumbrance, such as a lien or restrictive covenant, can detract a potential buyer from an investment property.

These encumbrances may restrict encumbrances property use or impose certain obligations on buyers. Deterring them from buying flexible or accessible properties.


Lack of marketability

In addition to narrowing the pool of possible buyers, encumbrances can limit the marketability of a property. The complexities of encumbrances may deter some buyers or make them too burdensome.


A decline in demand

It may be less appealing for buyers to buy properties that have encumbrances because of perceived risks and limitations. A decreased demand can affect the property’s market value, potentially lowering the sale price.


Financing Options Reduced

Buyers may have difficulty securing financing for a property if there are any encumbrances, such as outstanding liens. When a property has significant encumbrances, lenders may be reluctant to provide loans, limiting the pool of buyers and affecting the value.


Adjustments for negative appraisals

Generally, appraisers make adjustments to a property’s value based on encumbrances. Encumbrances that restrict or affect the use of the property may result in a decrease in value.

Considering the encumbrances as limitations, these adjustments may reduce the property’s value.


Concessions increased for sellers.

It may be necessary for the seller to lower the selling price or offer incentives to attract potential buyers to compensate for the encumbrances. This can affect the property’s market value and its final sale price.


Due Diligence and Disclosure


Encumbrances and the seller’s disclosure obligations

Providing accurate and complete information about existing easements, liens, covenants, restrictions, and encroachments to prospective buyers is an essential obligation for sellers.


Title searches and title insurance

Before completing a real estate transaction, title searches and insurance are essential to identify and address any encumbrances. Title insurance aims to protect the buyer from damage from undiscovered encumbrances or defects in the property’s title.


How to Deal with Encumbrances?


Getting an agreement and negotiating

Open communication and negotiations between all parties are effective strategies when dealing with encumbrances during a real estate transaction.

There is a possibility of reaching an agreement by discussing the nature and impact of the encumbrances. Resolving the encumbrances by specifying certain restrictions to satisfy all parties is possible. Drafting and executing binding agreements throughout the transaction process is essential for protection.


Insuring titles and conducting due diligence

The key to dealing with encumbrances is to obtain comprehensive title insurance. Title insurance protects against potential loss caused by hidden encumbrances.

To identify any existing encumbrances, it is crucial to conduct thorough due diligence. This involves thoroughly studying property records, surveys, and other relevant documents.

An informed buyer can mitigate encumbrance risks by conducting diligent research and purchasing title insurance.


Redress and Legal Remedies

In some cases, an experienced real estate lawyer with experience in encumbrance matters can provide valuable advice in dealing with encumbrances. A legal remedy that involves pursuing a quiet title action to end conflicting encumbrances and establish clear ownership rights may be available.

It is also possible to seek an injunction to stop encroachment or other property rights violations. Those involved in encumbrance issues can take appropriate action to protect their rights and resolve them by understanding the available legal options.


When Are We Supposed To Know If A Property Is Encumbered?

Before making an offer on a property, ensure you know what encumbrances the property might have and whether you might be purchasing a problem property.


Here’s how you can find out

When performing a title search on a property, you can discover which encumbrances are on it. If you’re still uncertain, consider speaking with a real estate attorney to receive legal guidance and advice.

Protecting yourself against certain encumbrances that might appear during purchase is also possible.


Is An Encumbered Property Still Worth Buying?

What is Ownership and encumbrance? It is essential to know what kind of encumbrance is on a property before you buy it and what effects it will have on your daily life. An IRS lien or a property tax lien might pose a problem if there is a zoning regulation on the property.

Especially when there are financial encumbrances on the property. Homebuyers and sellers will likely face extra costs at best or a delay in closing. Avoid anything that clouded the title or transferred someone else’s severe obligations to you.

Dealing with encumbrances entails frustrations, time-consuming tasks, and sometimes even costs. However, you should not ignore an encumbered property simply because of its status. Make sure you understand what encumbrances are and how they work.


Are Encumbrances Removable?

Most encumbrances disappear when a property transfer or ownership is changed. During the sale process, the title company searches for encumbrances and will pay any debts owed from the sale proceeds. Once the debt is paid, the encumbrances disappear.


A non-sale method for removing encumbrances

Removing some encumbered real estate by paying the debt and filing paperwork with the recorder’s office to remove the lien before the sale is possible. Suppose the homeowner did not pay the contractor, and the contractor recorded a lien in the public records. To remove the encumbrance, you must pay the contractor and file a release of lien with the local government.


Non-removable encumbrances

You cannot remove an existing encumbrance if you purchase a home subject to an existing encumbrance and assume the existing mortgage. A solar panel lease, for example, will not be removed unless the lease has expired if the home has an appurtenant (addressed in the next section).

Encumbrances like easements are not encumbrances at all. They are rather appurtenances, which are not technically encumbrances.



An encumbrance real estate affects property ownership rights and transferability, such as a claim, lien, restriction, or liability. An encumbrance can affect a property in several ways. One is an easement, which allows others to use a portion of it, while a lien is a legal claim made against it that secures a debt.

Whether buying or selling real estate, you need to be aware of encumbrances, as they can affect both parties significantly.

Before closing the sale, buyers should conduct thorough due diligence, including obtaining title insurance and searching to identify and remove any known encumbrances. The parties can ensure smooth and successful transactions by identifying and addressing encumbrances.

Hedy Ghavidel

HEDY GHAVIDEL Managing Attorney  Roseville Office  1-866-471-6981  info@attorneysre.com Bio...

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