To succeed in a Massachusetts adverse possession claim, the claimant must prove all of the elements required to establish his or her claim to a particular portion of land. In a January 19, 2018 case, the land court considered a claim of adverse possession by an abutting landowner and claims to confirm title initially filed by a mobile home park company and followed by a substitute petitioner. The history of the legal proceedings made it difficult to determine whether the landowner had established continuous possession of the area for the requisite period.
The mobile home company had commenced the original action in 1995, seeking to confirm title. That action remained pending until, due to a dispute concerning whether the landowner had been properly served with the petition, special notice was sent to the landowner in 2006. The landowner filed an answer, claiming title to a portion of the land based on adverse possession. His claim was based on acts of adverse possession beginning in 1985, after he purchased his property. The action continued to remain pending until 2018, when it came before the land court.
In Massachusetts, adverse possession can be acquired by proof of non-permissive use that is actual, open, notorious, exclusive, and adverse for a 20-year period. The burden is on the party claiming adverse possession to provide clear proof of each element. In the case, the landowner alleged that he staked a perimeter around his property, which included the land at issue, when he purchased the property in 1985. He also planted trees in that area to be sold as Christmas trees, cleared land, allowed hunters to use the property, informed others the land was his, and posted no trespassing signs. His activities continued to the time of the land court’s decision.