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What Are Massachusetts' Adverse Possession Laws?

How can you claim adverse possession in Massachusetts?

The real estate market downturn led to many foreclosures in parts of the country and many vacant properties. There have been cases across the nation of people squatting in homes. In some cases, these people have even been able to produce paperwork to claim that the home now belongs to them, MSN reports.

While the squatter problem isn't rampant in Boston, it's still an interesting question to ask. How can someone take possession of a vacant property in Massachusetts?

The answer lies in a legal concept called adverse possession.

Adverse possession is the idea that possession is nine-tenths of ownership. If someone takes possession of land and stays there for a certain period of time defined by law, the theory is that the land would belong to that person.

If you think about it, it's really an old-fashioned law. It almost sounds feudal. In fact, nowadays it takes a lot more than possession to take control of a property.

In Massachusetts, registered land is excluded from adverse possession by statute. That means a squatter can't walk on to a property that is registered to another owner and claim adverse possession, according to Massachusetts' laws.

But generally speaking, in order to have a case for adverse possession in Massachusetts, the possession must be open, actual, notorious, exclusive and adverse for 20 years.

Adverse possession isn't always clear-cut, and it doesn't just relate to vacant homes. For example, a neighbor may be able to claim adverse possession on a piece of your property by fencing in some of your land, if you don't take action for 20 continuous years.

If you have any questions on adverse possession, take a look at out related resources below or contact a Boston real estate lawyer.

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