In some situations, a person may establish title by adverse possession in a legal action filed with the Massachusetts Land Court. The plaintiffs in a March 4, 2019 Massachusetts adverse possession case claimed title to an additional eight foot wide strip of land along the eastern boundary of their property. They brought the claim against their neighbors, who were the record owners of the area in dispute.
The portion of land claimed by the plaintiffs was not a unified area. Essentially, it could be divided into three parts. One section had been enclosed by the plaintiffs’ back yard fence until 2012 and encroached approximately 5 feet over the record boundary line. The second section was not fenced or enclosed. The plaintiffs claimed possession of this section because they regularly raked and mowed the area and the defendants had no physical presence in the area. The third part consisted of 3 feet beyond the fence that had been erected and removed by the plaintiffs.
To acquire title by adverse possession in Massachusetts, the plaintiffs must show nonpermissive use of the property which is actual, open, notorious, exclusive and adverse for a continuous period of twenty years. The acts that establish adverse possession must be changes to the land that demonstrate the control and dominion ordinarily associated with ownership, and so open and notorious that they may be presumed to have been known by the record owner.