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Massachusetts law about adverse possession

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on adverse possession law.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL Ch. 7C sec. 32 No right by adverse possession to land held by commonwealth

MGL Ch. 185 sec. 53 No title to registered land through adverse possession

MGL Ch 260 sec. 21 –22, 28-31:

MGL Ch. 260 sec. 21: Recovery of land claimed by adverse possession
MGL Ch. 260 sec 22: Accrual of right or title
MGL Ch. 260 sec. 28: Open possession to retain possession
MGL Ch. 260 sec. 29: Barring remainders and reversions
MGL Ch. 260 sec. 30: Effect of death of tenant
MGL Ch. 260 sec. 31: Actions by commonwealth

Selected case law

1148 Davol Street LLC v. Mechanic's Mill One LLC, 86 Mass. App. Ct. 748 (2014)
A cause of action for adverse possession against a private party can begin to accrue during prior public ownership of the land. "Nothing in the statutory language [of MGL c.260, s.31] immunizes such lands [privately owned lands that had previously been publicly owned] from having an adverse possession claim begin to accrue during the period of public ownership."

Cook v. Babcock, 65 Mass. 206 (1853) 
"A party…must show an actual, open, exclusive, and adverse possession of the land. All these elements are essential to be proved, and the failure to establish any one of them is fatal to the validity of the claim."

Holmes v. Johnson, 324 Mass. 450 (1949)
"Acquisition of title through adverse possession is a fact . . . to be proved by the one asserting the title. The burden of proof extends to all of the  necessary elements of such possession . . . ."

Ryan v. Stavros, 348 Mass. 251 (1964)
"Title by adverse possession can be acquired only by proof of nonpermissive use which is actual, open, notorious, exclusive, and adverse for twenty years."

Web sources

Print sources



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: April 9, 2018