Trespass to Land may seem unimportant, but let it serve as a reminder to all you 3Ls that you need to be reviewing early to prepare for the bar exam. And for the 1Ls and 2Ls, why not quiz yourself to see if you actually remember the four elements of this tort. To review what you covered during your first few weeks of Torts, considering watching a video on the six intentional torts.
Trespass to land occurs when someone has the intent to enter the land in possession of another. The four elements of the tort trespass to land are intent, enter, land, and possession.
To meet the element of intent, the defendant must either desire or know to a substantial certainty that they will interfere with another’s right of possession. For example, Duffy is rushing home and decides to run though Neighbor’s yard as a short cut. Duffy has the requisite intent. Keep in mind that an honest but mistaken belief as to the ownership of the property is irrelevant, so long as there is the intent to enter the land of another.
The next element is to enter. The entering of another’s land results in trespass to land, including a single footstep that results in no actual damages. Entering can occur when: (1) a person enters the land; (2) a person refuses to leave the land after he was invited onto the land; (3) a person causes another person to enter the land; (4) a person causes an object to enter the land; or (5) a person fails to remove his personal property from the land.
Land is defined as the ground, the air space above the ground, and the material beneath the ground. It also includes anything attached to the land. Examples of things attached to the land include buildings, trees, or flag poles.
Possession means that the property must be in the lawful possession of another person.
To recap, trespass to land occurs when someone has the intent to enter the land in possession.
When you create an outline for Trespass to Land it should look something like this:
Trespass to Land
- Intent: the defendant must either desire or know to a substantial certainty that he or she will interfere with another’s right of possession.
- An honest but mistaken belief as to the ownership of the property is irrelevant, so long as there is intent to enter the land of another.
- Enter: entering of another’s land
- enters the land,
- refuses to leave the land after he or she was invited onto the land,
- causes another person to enter the land,
- causes an object to enter the land, OR
- fails to remove his personal property from the land
- Land: ground, airspace above the ground, and material beneath the ground
- Could also be anything attached to the land (buildings, trees, flag poles, etc.)
- Possession: the property is in the lawful possession of another person.
Trespass to Land Resources
If you’re interested in some of the remedies available for the plaintiff when recovering from the trespass to land, here is an article on trespass to land remedies.
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