Boundary disputes are a common issue among adjacent landowners. While many of these cases can be resolved relatively easily by having a property line survey performed, in other circumstances, the doctrine of acquiescence or adverse possession may be applied. However, these methods of acquiring title to a piece of real estate are often challenging to prove. To be successful, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how the two legal claims differ, as outlined below.
Acquiescence is typically applicable in situations where there has been a misunderstanding between neighboring landowners on where the boundary line lies. In this case, both property owners have shown a mutual acceptance of a particular dividing line despite it going against what has been officially recorded as the accurate property line.
Should a boundary dispute arise, the property owner on record may lose their title if the other individual decides to pursue a claim of acquiescence. In some states, like Wisconsin, a title based on this can usually only be established after the property line has been treated in the same manner for at least 20 years; though, a court can choose to enforce a marked boundary in certain cases.
In contrast, cases of adverse possession involve a hostile takeover of the land. The term doesn’t imply ill-intent of the possessor toward the true owner; rather, they have been using the property as their own for a significant amount of time without permission. To claim ownership in a boundary dispute, some states, like Wisconsin, require the unofficial property owner to demonstrate that the possession of real estate was hostile, exclusive, uninterrupted, and continuous for 20 years, in addition to open and notorious occupancy. If the true owner of the property can disprove any of these elements, the court is likely to rule in their favor, giving them the ability to reinforce their title.
If you are dealing with a boundary dispute, it’s beneficial to consult with an attorney who has experience in this area of real estate law. The legal team at Scott & Heenan LLC has been protecting the rights of Grant County property owners for over 50 years, helping clients navigate the complexities of conflicts involving land, easements, and fence lines. Call (608) 348-9506 to discuss your case today, or visit the website to learn more about the firm’s various practice areas.