No Boundary by Acquiescence without a Recognized Boundary

February 11, 2015 | Kristine A. Tidgren

McMahon v. Rousselow, No. 14-1421, 2015 Iowa App. LEXIS 107 (Iowa Ct. App. Feb. 11, 2015)


The Iowa Court of Appeals decided another boundary by acquiescence case on February 11, this time finding that no such boundary was established.

Background Law

In Iowa, landowners can ask a court to find that the boundary line between their property and their neighbors’ property should be reestablished to reflect the actual boundary line recognized by the parties. To prevail, a landowner must show that for a period of at least 10 years, the adjoining landowners (or their predecessors) recognized and consented to a boundary line that was different from the one established by a legal survey. A boundary by acquiescence is usually established when a party shows that a boundary fence separated the properties for 10 or more years.

Current Case

The recent case before the Iowa Court of Appeals provided no facts, except to state that neither party knew where the actual boundary line was located and that there was no consistent, recognized property line. Because there was never a recognized boundary between the parties, the issue of whether such boundary was mutually recognized for a period of ten years was irrelevant.

This is a short opinion, and there was apparently little need for judicial analysis. Unless some interesting facts were unstated, it’s a bit curious it came before the Court of Appeals at all. Even so, it reminds us that Iowa law does provide a means to adjust a legal boundary to comport with the boundary that adjacent landowners have recognized for 10 or more years. As this case shows, however, the requesting landowner must show mutual consent to an actual boundary line, not speculative assertion.