In real estate and property law, an encumbrance refers to any right or interest in a property held by someone other than the property owner that may affect the property’s value or limit its use. Encumbrances can impact the transferability of the property and may include a wide range of legal claims, restrictions, or interests. Here are some common types of encumbrances:

1. **Mortgages and Liens:**
– **Mortgage:** A mortgage is a type of encumbrance where the property is used as collateral for a loan. The lender has a security interest in the property until the mortgage is fully paid off.
– **Lien:** A lien is a legal right or interest that a lender or creditor has in a property until a debt is satisfied. Liens can arise from unpaid property taxes, utility bills, or judgments.

2. **Easements:**
– An easement is a non-possessory interest that gives someone the right to use another person’s property for a specific purpose. Common easements include rights-of-way for utilities or access to a neighboring property.

3. **Covenants:**
– A covenant is a legal restriction or promise associated with the use of a property. For example, a neighborhood may have restrictive covenants that regulate the architectural style of homes or limit certain activities on the property.

4. **Restrictions:**
– Certain restrictions may limit how a property can be used. These could include zoning regulations, environmental restrictions, or limitations on the type of structures that can be built.

5. **Leases:**
– A lease is a contractual arrangement granting someone the right to use and occupy a property for a specific period. While the property owner retains ownership, the lessee holds certain rights during the lease term.

6. **Encroachments:**
– An encroachment occurs when a structure or improvement from one property extends into another property. Encroachments can result in legal disputes and may need to be addressed through negotiation, easements, or legal actions.

7. **Deed Restrictions:**
– Deed restrictions are limitations placed on the use of a property that are recorded in the deed. These restrictions may dictate how the property can be developed or used.

8. **Equitable Servitudes:**
– An equitable servitude is a legal obligation imposed on a property owner to either do or refrain from doing something for the benefit of another property owner. It is often associated with shared amenities or property maintenance.

9. **Judgments:**
– A judgment lien can be placed on a property if a court awards a monetary judgment against the property owner. This lien serves as security for the judgment debt.

10. **Licenses:**
– A license is a revocable permission that allows someone to enter or use another person’s property. Unlike easements, licenses can typically be revoked at any time.

Understanding and addressing encumbrances is crucial in real estate transactions. Buyers, sellers, and lenders must carefully examine the title of a property to identify any encumbrances that may affect its value or use. Title insurance is commonly used to protect against financial losses arising from undiscovered encumbrances. Legal advice is often sought to navigate complex encumbrance issues and ensure a clear understanding of a property’s legal status.