“Good fences make good neighbors.”
– Robert Frost
Robert Frost meant well, but this age-old quote certainly doesn’t apply to all landowners: even with good fences, boundary disputes can still arise between property owners. If you find yourself in such a scenario, give serious thought to consulting an experienced attorney with one of these tricky matters.
Generally, boundary disputes come up when a landowner believes someone else is using their property or is refusing to allow them to use the land they believe they have a right to access.
The first step in dealing with boundary disputes is determining what the boundaries are. This can be determined if the party has an official description of the property, either through a survey or plot plan. The law of adverse possession, which allows a party to claim property by continuously using it for twenty years, can also help these cases.
Landowners dealing with boundary disputes should begin with a conciliatory approach. It may be possible to resolve the dispute without a lengthy and expensive court case if the parties can work the matter out independently. This is my own approach to boundary disputes: trying to see if a resolution can be reached without going to court.
If such a resolution is not possible, a court case may be necessary. Massachusetts law provides several different remedies for resolving boundary disputes, including declaratory judgments (a court order determining a party’s legal rights), injunctions (a judicial order preventing a party from doing something), and quiet title (an action to clear challenges to a party’s property title).
Boundary disputes are often fact-sensitive cases, requiring careful planning and strategy. If you find yourself dealing with this kind of problem, contact me for a consultation.