Boundary Disputes

Boundary disputes can arise between any two adjacent owners. One should not assume that a survey will be the final word on the proper location of boundaries. Minnesota courts have frequently held that long-recognized lines of occupation may not be disturbed by recent surveys.  Anyone involved in an actual or potential boundary dispute should be familiar with the doctrines of adverse possession and acquiescence.

Adverse Possession

Adverse possession involves the nonconsensual or "hostile" use of another's land for a continuous period of more than 15 years. One who satisfies the requirements of adverse possession can file a court action to obtain title to the land that was adversely possessed.  A person claiming adverse possession must show by clear and convincing evidence, an actual, open, hostile, continuous, and exclusive possession for 15 years.  Adverse use by one's seller or other predecessor in title, called "tacking," may be considered to satisfy the 15-year requirement. Tacking is permitted by making a showing that the predecessors in title had open, actual, hostile, continuous, and exclusive possession of the tract. 


Acquiescence, like adverse possession, can also undermine legal property boundaries. The acquiescence required is not merely passive consent to the existence of a fence but rather is conduct or lack thereof from which assets to the fence as a boundary line may be reasonably inferred.  When a fence is claimed to represent a boundary line under an acquiescence theory, one of the most important factors is whether the parties attempted and intended to place the fence as near the dividing line as possible.  Unlike adverse possession, acquiescence does not require "hostility." Parties often succeed on a claim for acquiescence when they are unable to meet the more exacting requirements for adverse possession.

Determination of Boundaries

Determination of boundaries can be determined by filing a petition in court to have all or some of the common boundary lines judicially determined.