Adverse Possession in Massachusetts

By Robert Nislick

Many of us wish to live in a world with friendly neighbors, and in a house with freshly painted white picket fences, and ample and accessible parking.  When you have bad neighbors, the dream can quickly turn into a nightmare.  One day you learn that your neighbors’ fence is over the property line.  Perhaps you have realized that they are parking on your land.  You try to mention it politely but it does not go well.

Gone is the welcome wagon that greeted you when you came to town.  Now you are going off the rails on a crazy train.  Your neighbors say that their fence has been there forever.  Although your survey shows the actual boundary, they don’t care.  They are not moving the fence.  Even worse, they tell you they now own your land.  How can that be possible?

Under the law of adverse possession, a person can actually cut off the ownership rights of the true owner of land.  Whereas someone might have been merely a trespasser, if he makes actual uses of the land of another, openly, notoriously, adversely, exclusively, nonpermissively, and continuously for a period of twenty years, the true owner may find himself out of luck.  A court could rule that the trespasser has now become the owner, and the person who was the owner has lost his ownership of the land.

If you find yourself in a dispute with your neighbor, you should contact Robert Nislick, a Massachusetts real estate lawyer, based in Framingham. I can help you analyze the situation and determine what claims you may have and whether they have any valid claims against you.  If someone is adversely possessing your land, there may be several things you can and should do to prevent the loss of your land and to keep your neighbor off your property.

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