Sometimes, an encumbrance can prevent property from being owned freely and in the clear in Pennsylvania. This means that the owner does not have full ownership of the property because there is someone else who may have a claim to that property under certain circumstances. Those who are looking to purchase property must be careful to fully check for encumbrances.
Encumbrances can involve a claim on part or all of the property. For example, there could be a lien on the property. This usually arises from some type of unpaid debt such as a mortgage, tax bill or even a water bill. It is important to know that these do not go away when the property is sold to a new owner. In other words, an encumbrance affects the property that is being bought.
There can be other encumbrances involving a part of the land like an encroachment or an easement. Somebody else may be using a part of the land or have the right to it, limiting the full ownership interest. In some cases, this involves something that has no right to be there such as a tree or even a shed. While it can be removed, it must still be disclosed to a potential new owner at the time of sale.
If commercial real estate is involved, an encumbrance could lead to business litigation. Encumbrances can be a complicated and difficult-to-navigate area of the law. Sometimes, property owners must go to court to either extinguish a lien or because they were not informed of it before they purchased the property. In some cases, the seller failed to disclose this before the transaction. This is where legal representation could be helpful.