An encumbrance is defined as "every right to or interest in the land which may subsist in third persons, to the diminution of the value of the land, but consistent with the passing of the fee by the conveyance." All encumbrances may be classed as either
- a pecuniary charge against the premises, such as mortgages, judgment liens, tax liens, or assessments, or
- estates or interests in the property less than the fee, like leases, life estates or dower rights, or
- easements or servitudes on the land, such as rights of way, restrictive covenants and profits.
It is important to note that the covenant against encumbrances operates in praesenti and cannot be breached unless the encumbrance existed at the time of the conveyance.