Iowa Court Affirms Boundary by Acquiescence
On April 15, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed a defendants’ motion for quiet title on the establishment of a new boundary line. The court found the two neighbors treated a row of culverts as the boundary line for a period of more than ten years, thereby creating a boundary by acquiescence.
A couple purchased land in eastern Iowa. There was a barbed wire fence in between them and their next door neighbor. The fence was not on the boundary line. In 2000, the couple removed the barbed wire fence and built a trough of half-pipe cement culverts five to six feet east of the fence closer onto their own property.
Seventeen years later, the couple filed a petition asking the court to determine the boundary line between them and their neighbor. The neighbor answered, alleging the concrete culverts to be the boundary line. The district court found the boundary to be a “bowed property line” following the path of the concrete culvert trough. The couple appealed the ruling.
Boundary by Acquiescence
Boundary by acquiescence is the mutual recognition of a dividing line by two adjoining landowners for at least ten years. The dividing line must be clearly marked in some way. Acquiescence may be inferred from silence when there is notice of another party’s claim. Both parties must be aware of the boundary line.
The parties disagreed over which of the two posts on the north side of the property would be the starting point of the boundary line. The trial court found clear evidence that the westernmost post was the starting point. The Court of Appeals found the trial court had substantial evidence supporting this position and affirmed.
Both parties disagreed the boundary line veered. The trial court found the manner in which the parties treated the boundary created a “bowed property line.” The court considered how the neighbors maintained the western portion of the property—by mowing, chemically treating the grass, and landscaping—without any complaint from the couple. This demonstrated acquiescence by both parties, despite this being an undesirable outcome. Because evidence showed the two parties treating the trough of culverts as a partition line for more than ten years, the court affirmed that it had become the new boundary.
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