Now Accepting New Clients!

REAL ESTATE 9: Can parties acquiesce to a new property boundary line?

This case involves a dispute regarding the use of two driveways. One of the driveways, composed of gravel, originally ran partially on plaintiffs’ property and partially on defendants’ property. The other driveway, which is paved, runs along defendants’ east property line with neighbor and third-party defendant, then crosses over defendants’ property near their house, and finally ends at plaintiffs’ property line.

Before defendants purchased the property in 2012, defendant visited the property, introduced himself to plaintiff, and stated that defendants intended to purchase the property.  Plaintiff explained to defendant that he owned the gravel driveway, having given up their right to use the paved driveway as a right of way.  Defendant told Plaintiff that they would see about that claim. When defendants moved in, they began using the gravel driveway.

During 2014, defendants blocked plaintiffs’ access to the paved driveway with barrels and parked campers. They also put mounds of dirt along the gravel driveway. Defendants later cut off plaintiffs’ use of the gravel driveway with a large log. Consequently, plaintiffs lacked access to their house via both driveways.

The trial court held a five-day bench trial at which plaintiffs, two current neighbors, one former neighbor, and two licensed surveyors testified. Plaintiffs testified that they had lived at their property for 28 years and enjoyed maintaining and using the gravel driveway uninterrupted without any problems with their neighbors until defendants moved next door. Plaintiffs’ neighbor to the west, who lived for there for 32 years, testified regarding the neighbors’ historical use of the driveways. He understood that plaintiffs had the right to use both driveways and confirmed that Plaintiff maintained the gravel driveway year-round for many years. He also saw the barriers that defendants had erected and placed, preventing others from using both of the driveways.

Under Michigan law, parties may acquiesce to a new property boundary line.  Acquiescence is established when a preponderance of the evidence establishes that the parties treated a particular boundary line as the property line.

Unlike adverse possession, a claim of acquiescence does not require that possession of the land was hostile or without permission.

In this case, plaintiffs established by a preponderance of the evidence that the previous owners and plaintiffs had agreed that plaintiffs had the exclusive right to use the gravel driveway. The previous owners acquiesced to the changed boundary line and plaintiffs’ exclusive use of the gravel driveway for over two decades. Multiple witnesses testified that plaintiffs used the gravel driveway and maintained it as their own for over two decades.

The trial court, therefore, did not err in finding that plaintiffs owned the gravel driveway by acquiescence, where they had possessed it, used it, and maintained it for more than the 15-year statutory period, and where, during that timeframe, the previous owners had treated the boundary line between their property and plaintiffs as running along the east side of the gravel driveway. Further, the trial court did not err in relying on plaintiffs’ unrebutted testimony that the previous owners sought permission to use the gravel driveway and did not treat that property as their own.

Are you involved in a real estate dispute in Michigan? Are you seeking an efficient and effective resolution to a property litigation matter? If you are facing a residential or commercial real estate, seek the advice of an experienced and skilled real estate litigation attorney at Aldrich Legal Services in Plymouth.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

Basic responsibilities of an executor

Originally posted on 01/11/2017 The emotional toils of dealing with the death of a loved one can be considerably difficult. Nevertheless, perseverance is paramount; especially if you are appointed to be an executor to one’s...

What you need to compliment your will

Originally posted on 02/08/2017 Making end-of-life plans usually end with a will, but they shouldn't. Some believe that simply having a will is enough. However, this post will briefly explain how having other estate planning...

The benefits of home health care providers

Originally posted on 03/22/2017 As we get older or suffer an injury, we need a little extra help. Home health care providers or caregivers can provide the assistance needed to handle your or your loved one's health and safety...

What to know about bail conditions

Originally posted on 03/06/2017 If you have been arrested and are being held on the suspicion that you have committed a particular crime, chances are that the only thing you are thinking about is getting out of jail as soon as possible and...

College students and estate planning

Originally posted on 12/16/2016 With college semesters starting up in Michigan, it may not be so easy to get college students to think responsibly. This time can be especially tough with the need of moving back to school and getting...

Three reasons to put a power of attorney in place

Originally posted on 11/08/2016 While no one wants to think of the unfortunate possibility of being incapacitated or of a time when we can't handle our own affairs, this circumstance is a real possibility. If something happens and this...

How to approach parents about estate planning

Originally posted on 12/09/2016 Family forms a strong foundation for many people's first and most intimate community. It is important to strengthen these first relationships so even uncommon questions become natural. For those...

PROBATE 44: Petition for Mental Health Treatment

Michigan’s Mental Health Code governs the civil admission and discharge procedures for a person with a mental illness. Specifically, MCL 330.1434 sets forth the procedure and content requirements for a petition for mental health treatment.

Should you get your criminal record expunged?

Originally posted on 04/12/2017 If you have been convicted of a crime, have served your sentence, and have followed all court recommendations, you should be able to put your past behind you and move on with life. Moving forward is critical...

Choosing the right executor for an estate

Originally posted on 05/28/2017 When people are thinking about planning their estate, they often think about trying to minimize the estate tax, keeping their will updated, and keeping items out of probate court; however, there is another...

Understanding how the Miranda warning works

Originally posted on 11/25/2016 Michigan residents who have seen television police shows or movies involving law enforcement have no doubt watched many dramatic scenes with officers quoting something to the effect of, "You have the...

Don't let a bad decision, unfair contract, or a messy divorce get in the way of a promising future!
Contact the experienced team at Aldrich Legal Services today to schedule your free initial
and secure reliable and trustworthy representation today!
Get the Help You Need From a Team You Can Truly Count On: (734) 404-3000