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How you can protect your property from adverse possession

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2024 | Commercial Real Estate |

Trespassers on your land can get in the way of how you want to develop your commercial property. They might occupy your property for long periods of time, damage it or even build their own structures on it, with you none the wiser.

If you want to be proactive in protecting your commercial property and keeping your rights to use it intact, it is important to understand the concept of adverse possession and how it can jeopardize your property.

Adverse possession can sneak up on you

Also known as “squatter’s rights,” adverse possession is an old legal doctrine that grants a party that openly inhabits a property the title to said property under certain circumstances.

The purpose of adverse possession is to ensure that those owners put their property to good use or distribute said property to parties that will actually use it.

Massachusetts law permits adverse possession under these conditions:

  • The trespassing party must occupy a property for at least 20 years
  • They must physically occupy the property
  • They must treat the property as their own
  • Only one party exclusively and openly occupies the property
  • The property owner did not consent to the trespassing party’s occupation

If you are not vigilant, it is possible that your property could suddenly fall under the ownership of someone else if they claim adverse possession.

Steps you can take to protect your property

You can safeguard your rights to your property from adverse possession. Consider the following actions:

  • Put up walls around your property
  • Install anti-trespassing signs to make it clear that a property is privately owned
  • Check on your property at regular intervals to ensure it is not being occupied by trespassing parties
  • If there are parties occupying your property, demand that they leave

If you are not paying attention to your property, adverse possession may take you by surprise. However, you can be proactive in protecting your rights.