One of the most important factors in a Massachusetts prescriptive easement claim is whether the claimant’s use of the property was permissive or adverse. The Land Court recently addressed this issue when deciding an April 5, 2019 case. The plaintiff in the case sought to improve a section of a path located on the defendants’ property, claiming that he had the right to make improvements because he held a prescriptive easement over the path.
The defendants’ property and most of the surrounding land had traditionally been used for cranberry farming. The path in dispute was part of a long-existing system of cart paths that wound through the fields to various ponds. At present, part of the path was used as the defendants’ driveway and connected to the main road.
The plaintiff had a direct route to the main road as well, which was located entirely on his property. However, rather than using that route, the plaintiff sought to improve and use the section of the path located on the defendants’ property and used as their driveway to access the main road. The plaintiff asserted his rights to improve the path through a prescriptive easement claim.