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Land Use Litigation: Adverse Possession Prescriptive Easements

Eastern Massachusetts Prescriptive Easements Attorneys

Has your land ownership, acquisition or development plan been impaired by legal issues related to adverse possession or a prescriptive easement?

Although landowners typically acquire property interests and rights via a conveyance by deed, additional rights and interests can also be established (or lost) by adverse possession or prescriptive easement.

How Can You Obtain Ownership?

Under Massachusetts common law, an individual can acquire the fee interest (complete ownership) in a parcel or portion of land if he or can establish that he or she (or his predecessors in interest) has actually used the property continuously for 20 years, and that such use was open, without permission, adverse, notorious and exclusive as to the actual (record title) owner. Provided that all of the elements are established, adverse possession typically arises when a landowner fences in all or a portion of an abutting lot; mows, landscapes and maintains a strip of his or her neighbor’s land; paves a driveway over a portion of an adjoining lot; or builds a structure that encroaches over the lot line.

Prescriptive Easements

Similarly, prescriptive easements can also be established by similar adverse use, with the exception being that the use does not have to be exclusive from the rightful owner. Prescriptive easements are governed by Massachusetts statute (M.G.L. c. 187, § 2) as interpreted by the courts. A typical case would be where a landowner uses a path on his or her neighbor’s lot to reach his own land, even though he or she had never been given permission (license) from the neighbor and no such rights have been previously set forth in the record title (deeds).

In either case, an individual seeking to formally establish or defend a claim of right by adverse possession or prescriptive easement must seek a court judgment to declare the parties’ rights. Moreover, the presence or absence of interests established by adverse possession or prescriptive easements can affect one’s ability to develop land and often these issues arise when plans to develop the land are advanced.

In those instances where the requisite 20-year period has not yet passed, there are certain affirmative steps that landowners can take to prevent another party from eventually pursuing a claim of right by adverse possession or prescriptive easement.

Experienced Real Estate Counsel

If an adverse possession or prescriptive easement claim has surfaced and you need to establish or defend your residential or commercial property interests accordingly, the experienced Massachusetts real estate lawyer who can put your objectives back on track is Jeffrey T. Angley, partner in the law firm of Phillips & Angley and founder of the Boston law offices of Phillips & Angley.

Jeffrey T. Angley is an AV-rated attorney by the Martindale-Hubbell* peer review rating process and a practicing trial attorney for more than 25 years.

The Knowledge to Help Landowners and Developers

Our attorneys’ real estate, zoning and land use litigation practices concentrate on a broad range of practice areas affecting landowners and developers, and have built a recognized reputation for results. We practice in all state and federal courts of Massachusetts, including the Land Court, Superior Court and Massachusetts Appeals Court, and before local and state administrative agencies.

For thorough, efficient solutions to your real estate problems and focused, formidable counsel that protects your rights, come to Phillips & Angley.

Your Initial Consultation

Our law firm represents claimants in matters involving continuous use of land for 20 years, and other land use litigation issues, such as boundary disputes. For an initial consultation with a Massachusetts adverse possession attorney. One toll-free number connects you to our primary law office in Boston: 866-675-2109. You can also contact us using the online form.

*AV Preeminent and BV Distinguished are certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell ratings fall into two categories: legal ability and general ethical standards.