In many situations, property owners must pursue judicial action to determine their rights in real estate matters. In a March 23, 2017 case, the Massachusetts Land Court resolved a boundary dispute between the owners of adjacent properties. The area in dispute was a portion of the plaintiffs’ driveway, which ran parallel along the shared boundary line. Both parties relied on surveys they obtained to prove ownership of the disputed area. Unable to resolve their dispute out of court, the parties sought a determination from the land court regarding the true common boundary line of the properties.
In June 2003, the plaintiff paved over his gravel driveway against an existing piece of rebar, located on what he believed was the common boundary line. Once the asphalt was laid, the plaintiff did not take any measurements or verify whether the new driveway was in a different location from the gravel driveway, closer to the defendants’ property. Believing that the paved driveway encroached upon their property, the defendants hired a surveyor to research and prepare a plan determining the location and dimensions of their property.
In 2005, the defendants approached the plaintiffs and asked if they could execute a document acknowledging the defendants’ determination of the property line. The letter also gave permission to the plaintiffs to use the encroaching sections, such as the driveway and the mailbox areas, as long as they confirmed the location of the shared boundary based on their survey. The plaintiffs declined to sign the letter and, believing that the survey was incorrect, retained the services of another company to investigate and make a determination of the boundary line.