A disagreement between property owners regarding their respective boundary lines may lead to legal action. In a July 30, 2018 opinion, the Massachusetts Land Court decided a case concerning the ownership of a disputed area along the boundary line between the parties’ properties. The area at issue was the driveway separating the two properties. The plaintiffs in the case brought an action against the defendant to quiet title, claiming ownership over the entire portion of the disputed area pursuant to their deed.
The driveway at issue was used by both parties to enter and exit their respective properties. When the defendant purchased her property in 1998, there was a wood board affixed to the driveway that ran the length of the two houses, indicating a boundary line. When the plaintiffs purchased their house in 2002, they understood that they were entitled to use the entire driveway between the properties, and they did so. At some point, however, the defendant told the plaintiffs that the boundary line was down the middle of the driveway and that the plaintiffs could not use or drive on her side of it.
In 2013, the defendant had a survey done of her property to determine the location of the boundary line on the driveway. The plaintiffs, in turn, obtained a survey in 2015 and sought a second survey thereafter. The defendant sought a permit and constructed a four-foot fence on the driveway. The plaintiffs obtained a third survey in 2016, which showed that a portion of the driveway and the defendant’s fence were located on the plaintiffs’ property.
The primary issue for the Land Court was the location of the boundary between the parties’ properties, which would indicate the resulting rights of the parties to use the driveway. In Massachusetts, when a boundary line is in controversy, it is a question of fact determined from all of the evidence, including the various surveys and plans showing where the true line originally ran and where the line was to be established.
After reviewing the surveys, the Land Court concluded that the boundary between the two properties was down the middle of the driveway, as described in the most recent survey obtained by the plaintiffs. The court noted that the 2016 survey included all of the relevant dimensions of the properties and the locations of the houses, fence, and driveway. By contrast, the other plans offered by the defendant showed no relevant features apart from the house, and they were not signed by a surveyor. The declaration and judgment entered by the Land Court, which included the 2016 survey, thus clarified the boundary line and settled the dispute.
The Massachusetts real estate lawyers at Pulgini & Norton have the experience to litigate residential property disputes as well as represent homeowners in a variety of legal matters. We handle home purchase and sale agreements, mortgage re-financing, land use and zoning disputes, and many other residential real estate issues. Arrange your free consultation with a property lawyer at Pulgini & Norton by calling (781) 843-2200 or contacting us online.
More Blog Posts:
Massachusetts Homeowners Acquire Ownership Rights to Portion of Neighbor’s Lot, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published November 27, 2017
After Discovering Accurate Boundaries, Massachusetts Landowners Litigate Adverse Possession Claim, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published April 12, 2018