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Legal trespassing

24 January 2018 | roadmap

Nobody's allowed on my property without my permission! Actually, that's not always true.

Most civilised societies regard the protection of one's property as a basic right (in certain jurisdictions as a constitutional right), and it is protected by law. However, the protection – which is at the same time a limitation for others – is not absolute. Here are five real-life examples of legal "trespassing" on property:

Misplaced things: if your neighbour's dog wanders into your courtyard, your neighbour may access your property in order to retrieve his dog. You can prohibit the neighbour from accessing your property, but only if you immediately give him his dog. The same applies to other things the owner (or possessor) claims back from your property.

Necessary construction works on a neighbouring house: if access and use of your property are needed for construction works on a neighbouring property and you deny access, the neighbour may sue you (and win). Nevertheless, you are entitled to compensation for the use of your property and the neighbour must remedy any damages caused due to such use.

Necessary passage: if there is no alternative access to the neighbouring property other than over your property, the owner of the neighbouring property is entitled to use your property for such passage. Such use is limited to the necessary minimum and has to be formally established (servitude).

Placement, access and repair of utilities (eg sewerage pipeline): if it is in the interests of the state, it can be done on your property without your consent.

Interventions by authorities (police, firefighters, etc): in special situations (eg criminal acts, immediate danger), authorities may access your property without your approval.

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Ksenija Šourek*
Ksenija Šourek*

Attorney at Law

T: +385 1 4828 183

F: +385 1 4813 073