Acquiescence is a legal concept that determines the boundary line between two properties and overrules the boundary listed in the deeds. If the law of acquiescence applies, one property owner loses title to some amount of land and the other property owner gains it.
The law of acquiescence is concerned with adjoining property owners, both of whom are mistaken about where the line between their property is. Adjoining property owners may treat a boundary line, often a fence, as the property line incorrectly. If the law of acquiescence applies, then one property owner will lose all legal title to some amount of land. This is similar to the doctrine of adverse possession, however there is no requirement that the actions be hostile, instead it is based on a mutual mistake.
In most states, the law of acquiescence can apply in three situations:
- Dispute and agreement – If the property owners have a dispute about where the boundary is and come to an agreement to settle the dispute, this agreed upon boundary line becomes the legal boundary, no matter what is listed in the deeds.
- Acquiescence for a statutory period – If one landowner treats a line as the dividing line between the property for the amount of time required by statute without objection from the neighbor, this line will become the legal boundary. The statutory period is usually quite long, often 15 years.
- Intention to deed to boundary line – This situation arises when a property owner intends to deed the property with the boundary line but mistakenly uses an incorrect description. In this case, the acquiescence to the intended boundary will fix the mistake.
It can sometimes be difficult to determine where the boundary is between two pieces of property. If you have any doubt about the boundary to your property, you should speak to a real estate lawyer to avoid losing title to land that is legally yours. A lawyer can advise you of your options as a property owner and represent you in court.