Preventing adverse possession is a concern that all property owners should keep in mind when dealing with a trespasser upon their property. Without taking the proper action, one’s property can be lost to another.
What is Adverse Possession?
Adverse possession is a legal claim that allows a party to obtain real property owned by someone else if the trespasser has used it continuously for a minimum of twenty years. Adverse possession has a number of specific requirements, including one that the use of the property must be non-permissive. In other words, the party using the property must have done so without the land owner’s permission.
In Massachusetts, there is a presumption that the use of another’s property is non-permissive, unless there is something to show otherwise. With this in mind, property owners need to be careful when dealing with a circumstance in which someone else is using their property.
Preventing Adverse Possession: Give Them Permission to Use the Property
The first, and easiest means of preventing adverse possession, is to simply give the other party permission to use the property. This is a good option when the other party’s use of the property isn’t a major concern, and (other than to avoid adverse possession) there is no real harm to the land owner.
Permission to use property can be done through a license, which is a limited right to use property that, importantly, is revocable. When giving such permission, it should always be done in writing, with proof of receipt to the other side. It is also a good idea to consider recording this notice in the land records.
Note that giving permission to the other party must be done within the twenty-year deadline for adverse possession. If the twenty-year period has already elapsed, adverse possession may already have occurred.
Preventing Adverse Possession: File a Court Action To Remove the Trespasser From the Property
If you do not want to give the other party permission to use your property, a court action to remove the trespassing party may be necessary. A court has authority to issue an injunction, which is a legal order preventing a party from doing something. In the case of a trespasser, a court can order a party to stay off of another’s property.
Preventing adverse possession is an important matter for any property owner with a trespasser. If you need assistance with such a matter, contact me for a consultation.