Massachusetts Landowners Re-Litigate Boundary Dispute After Acquiring Additional Parcel

Property law can seem complicated, but an experienced Massachusetts real estate attorney can guide you through the necessary legal proceedings.  In a December 8, 2017 case, a boundary line dispute came before the Massachusetts Land Court for a second time.  The location of the boundary line was first addressed in 2010 with an 11-day trial.  The land court entered an amended judgment in 2011, describing the area at issue and defining the boundary.  That decision was subsequently affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

The 2017 action arose after the parties realized that the 2011 judgment did not fully resolve the boundary dispute.  The 2011 judgment was based upon the parties’ agreement that all of the defendants’ property consisted of the land conveyed in an 1838 deed.  Unbeknownst to the plaintiff and the land court, nine months before the 2010 trial, the defendants acquired a trapezoidal parcel of land south of the property that, depending on the validity of the deed and location, might also abut the plaintiff’s property.  As a result, the adjudication of the parties’ common boundary line was potentially incomplete.

After learning of the deed, which was recorded long after the 2011 judgment, the plaintiff filed the current action to reopen the proceedings.  The limited issues were whether the grantor owned the trapezoidal parcel that was conveyed to the defendants, and if so, what was the location of the south boundary line between the parties’ properties.

In Massachusetts, the location of a disputed boundary line is a question of fact regarding all of the evidence, including the various surveys and plans, to determine where the true line originally ran.  The courts may consider any competent evidence in determining the true boundary line between adjoining owners.  In the case, the evidence regarding the title and boundary line consisted of various deeds, which the court resolved based on its evaluation of the totality of the evidence.  The court noted that when dealing with woodlands on Cape Cod, the documentation practices had been relatively relaxed in the past in the absence of reliable monuments.

After reviewing the evidence, the court concluded that through a series of conveyances, title to the trapezoidal parcel had passed from the original grantor and so on, until it ultimately passed to the defendants.  Accordingly, the conveyance was valid, and the defendants were the rightful owners of the trapezoidal parcel.  The court went on to find that the plaintiff’s land did share a common boundary with the defendant’s trapezoidal parcel on the eastern side, and it entered a sketch depicting the corrected boundary line.

At the Massachusetts firm of Pulgini & Norton, our real estate attorneys assist homeowners and prospective buyers in a number of residential property matters.  From mortgage re-financing to title actions, we can provide legal guidance and work to advance your goals.  To arrange your free consultation with an experienced property lawyer, call Pulgini & Norton at (781) 843-2200 or submit the contact form on our website.

More Blog Posts:

Massachusetts Homeowners Acquire Ownership Rights to Portion of Neighbor’s Lot, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published November 27, 2017

Massachusetts Plaintiff Seeks to Enforce Greater Easement Rights Against Town in Property Action, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published September 11, 2017

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