Morisi & Oatway, P.C. represents clients in real estate litigation to protect their property rights. When clearing a title to property, our Massachusetts adverse possession attorneys can argue in court, if necessary, to prove or disprove adverse possession.
Adverse possession law in Massachusetts
Adverse possession is a change of ownership without compensation that occurs through a party’s occupying or taking possession of a piece of land for a continuous period of years. Adverse possession law in Massachusetts is subject to particular statutes and case laws.
The most well-known form of adverse possession is squatters’ rights. During the pioneer years when our nation was founded, people staked property claims by squatting on property and building cabins or other structures that established ownership.
Under Massachusetts statutes, adverse possession must occur for at least 20 years before the courts recognize its validity. This means that the owner has 20 years to repossess the land and get rid of the adverse disseisor (the name used for the person taking possession away from the original owner).
Reasoning behind adverse possession laws
The original idea behind adverse possession was to establish a statute of limitations (time limit) that prevented property defects from becoming uncurable. Anyone purchasing property knows the importance of clearing the chain of title so no liens or defects exist, potentially leading to ownership disputes. Adverse possession prevents people from asserting ownership who claim to be lien holders or property heirs from decades earlier but who have no significant dealings with the property.
Adverse possession defense
A Massachusetts adverse possession lawyer can defend a client’s rights in an adverse possession case, whether the original property owner or the disseisor. One effective defense against adverse possession is for the original owner to register property with the Land Court and obtain a new certificate of title. Under Massachusetts law, people cannot adversely possess property registered with the land court. The person attempting to adversely possess land bears the burden of proving ownership by showing—
- Exclusive property possession and entry on the property
- Open and notorious possession (obvious ownership─homes, structures, tax payments, etc.)
- Possession that is adverse to the owner (without consent or permission)
- Continuous possession for 20 years (existence of regular property use, even if only seasonal)
If you face adverse possession issues, find out how our firm can help.