A recent Land Court case, Bassin v. Fairley, 11 MISC 451773 (AHS) (Mass. Land Ct. June 17, 2014), provides a good reminder of the kind of inquiry a court will make when deciding whether a landowner can remove a tree that straddles a common boundary line.
To the unwary, it might be surprising that property dating back to the 1870s could, almost 150 years later, fall prey to a boundary line dispute. But it does happen, as the recent case, Bernier v. Fredette, 85 Mass. App. Ct. 265 (2014), reminds us.
Boundary disputes can arise in a number of ways. Perhaps a landowner wants to install a fence or septic system, and the location of the boundary line becomes an issue with the neighbor. Other cases can come about innocently, such as when a landowner discovers (via a survey undertaken by a qualified land surveyor) that property lines are not located as originally thought, with buildings or other structures found to be encroaching on an abutting lot.