Adverse Possession

Massachusetts law denies adverse possession of property owned by the Commonwealth or its municipalities

When a dispute arose between the Cambridge Housing Authority and its neighbors over the location of a fence, the Massachusetts Land Court applied a statute that denies adverse possession of government-owned property, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 260, §31, when that property is held for public purposes. Some other states have done away with sovereign immunity from adverse possession claims but this case reminds us that some states have the older immunity rule. Vasquez v....

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Not a regulatory taking and no compensation due when a town acquires an easement by prescription

The Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts held that a town can acquire an easement by prescription and that, if it does, no just compensation is due because no regulatory taking has occurred. Rather, the landower failed to object by suing for trespass or to give permission so the statute of limitations for ejecting the intrusion passed and the owner's right to exclude was limited by statute and the doctrine of easement by prescription. The town did not "take" the property; the owner lost property rights by failing to take steps required by law to preserve those rights.... Read more about Not a regulatory taking and no compensation due when a town acquires an easement by prescription

Adverse possession available against city when land was not being used for a public purpose

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has joined the modern movement to allow adverse possession claims against cities when the city’s land being occupied was not being devoted to a public purpose during the period was it was occupied by the adverse possessor. City of Philadephia v. Galdo, 217 A.3d 811 (Pa. 2019).

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Grant of permission to use driveway 31 years after initial use did not defeat prescriptive easement claim

Owners who traversed a road over neighboring land to get to a public way for more than 30 years established a right to a prescriptive easement despite a grant of permission by the owner of the servient estate that occurred long after the statute of limitations had run....

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Easement owner who exceeds the scope of the easement can obtain new use rights by prescription

Owner of an easement of passage that also uses the land without permission to park a car, use the area as a yard and maintain the lawn exceeds the scope of the easement and if done for the statutory period can obtain an easement by prescription for the longstanding uses. Savoie v. Zaniboni,  27 LCR 165, 2019 Mass. LCR LEXIS 58, 2019 WL 1511101 (Mass. Land Ct. 2019). The court applies the traditional presumption that uses of another's land are nonpermissive unless evidence of permission is present.

Adverse possessor must identify and provide evidence of the boundaries of the land that is being adversely possessed

An owner cannot claim part of the neighbor’s land by adverse possession without clear evidence of where the border is. In Coscina v. DiPetrillo, 186 A.3d 590 (R.I. 2018), the adverse possessor claimed occupation of parts of her neighbor’s land but court documents repeatedly changed the location of the claimed line between the properties. Not only must the adverse possessor establish where the line is that encompasses the property acquired by adverse possession but must show sufficient evidence to... Read more about Adverse possessor must identify and provide evidence of the boundaries of the land that is being adversely possessed