Encroachment of property occurs when a structure is on someone else’s land. In Massachusetts, the law allows a property owner to take court action to have such a structure removed.
Encroachment of Property: What Can Be Done?
Massachusetts law allows a property owner to file a civil lawsuit for encroachment of property. Per the law, a property owner is generally allowed to compel the removal of a structure significantly encroaching their property. Such an action would generally be pursued in Superior Court or Land Court.
To pursue such a case, a property owner would, of course, have to show they own the respective property that they claim is being encroached. This generally requires the property owner to have a professional survey or plot plan showing the boundary lines and location of the encroaching structure. A property owner may also be able to show property ownership through a successful claim of adverse possession.
Is the Encroachment Trivial?
Not all encroachments, however, will allow a mandatory removal of a structure. A court will not permit such relief when the encroachment is de minimis (“minor”). For example, a prior case found an encroachment to be de minimis for a building located on another’s property by only one-quarter of an inch.
Determining this will come done to the specific facts of each case, and will require a claimant to make a compelling reason why such a removal should be permitted.
As with all legal matters, it is best to see if such disputes can be resolved without court intervention. Negotiation and compromise can often save all parties enormous time and legal expenses. If you need assistance with such a matter, contact me for a consultation.