A person has to protect their property, in particular, the boundaries, or the property can be subject to adverse possession. A claim for adverse possession is proven when it is demonstrated that there has been open, continuous, notorious, and adversely use of the property by another for twenty years. The twenty years is the statute of limitations for a property claim. So, in other words, if a person fails for twenty years to assert their rights to their own real property (real estate) another person can claim it is their property.
This is why it is important to (peacefully) assert your rights to your property to avoid another person believing that they have a right superior to the record owner's rights.
Sometimes these claims are more about boundaries than the entire property. What happens is a party begins to continually maintain a part of property and the right of the record owner “deteriorates” to nothing with the passage of time. When a piece of property is purchased it is important to have a clear understanding of the metes and bounds of the property prior to purchase. This is accomplished by doing due diligence. Due diligence is reviewing those document related to the property, conferring with abutting owners, and inspecting relevant town, city, and other governmental records.
Once a claim is made (or it is anticipated you will make such a claim) it is important to gather whatever evidence there is to support your view. This includes questioning and locating photographs, receipts, and the like to strengthen your claim or defense. Rarely, has there been absolutely no activity over the twenty years relevant to the property dispute in question. It is important to review this information and any other information and determine the best course of action.
Attorney Erickson is experienced with these matters and is available at (978) 793-9212 to discuss your adverse possession matter.