Boundary by Acquiescence Inferred from Landowner’s Inaction
On April 13, 2022, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed that two plaintiffs established a boundary by acquiescence. The plaintiffs and their predecessors openly used a twenty-foot-wide strip of land between a fence on the adjoining property and the true boundary line for at least a ten-year period. The Court of Appeals found that the neighboring landowners were on notice that the plaintiffs used the disputed property; therefore, they consented to the fence as the boundary line.
The plaintiffs purchased their property from family in 2018. The defendants own the property north of the plaintiffs. A fence runs in between the two properties on the defendants’ land, about twenty feet north of the surveyed boundary line. The plaintiffs petitioned the court to establish a boundary by acquiescence.
At trial, the plaintiffs’ predecessors testified that they purchased the property in 2003. They claimed that they believed the fence was the boundary line and that they maintained the disputed property and used it as an access road. The defendants’ predecessor offered a different story. He claimed that he used the disputed property for various reasons and had informed the plaintiffs’ family where the true boundary line was located.
After considering the evidence, the district court found that both landowners and their predecessors had treated the fence like the boundary since 2003. Therefore, the plaintiffs established a boundary by acquiescence. The defendants appealed.
Boundary by Acquiescence
Boundary by acquiescence occurs when two adjoining landowners mutually recognize a dividing property line for at least ten years. Iowa Code § 650.14. Acquiescence may be inferred from silence when there is notice of another party’s claim. Here, the Court of Appeals found that the defendants and their predecessor should have been on notice. The plaintiffs and their family openly mowed the disputed property and used it for go-karting and driveway access.
The defendants argued that permissive use does not equate to acquiescence. The court noted that even if the defendants’ predecessor pointed out where the boundary line was, he never permitted the use of the land. The court determined that he “merely notified” the plaintiffs’ predecessors of the survey line and did not attempt to oust them from the property. Therefore, the court concluded that the defendants’ predecessor had consented to the fence line as the boundary line for the requisite ten-year period.
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