You are here

Can I trespass on neighbor's property to make repairs?

I need to make some repairs to my windows but my neighbor won't let me. Is there any law in MA that allows me to go on my neighbor's land (trespass, as he calls it) to replace my windows. My house is so close to the neighbor's lot line that my contractor says he'll have to put his ladders on the neighbor's driveway. But this neighbor is a freak about 'his property' and says he wont let me do it. So how can I change my windows? Thanks.

Share this with your friends

If you can't convince your neighbor to be reasonable about this issue, I think you should check out Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266, Section 120B:


Whoever, being the owner of land abutting that of another, the building or buildings on which are so close to the land of such other person as to require an entry on said abutting land for the purpose of maintaining or repairing said building or buildings in order to prevent waste, shall not be deemed guilty of trespass or liable civilly for damages, provided that such entry is made expeditiously and in the exercise of due care and that no damage is caused by such entry to the land or buildings of said abutting owner. Before such entry said owner shall notify the chief or other officer in charge of the police department of the city or town in which the land is located that he has requested permission to enter on adjoining land from the owner or occupants thereof for the purpose of maintaining or repairing a building or buildings and that such permission has been refused, and that he intends to enter under the provisions of this section. Before entering on said land, said owner shall post bond with the chief of police in the amount of one thousand dollars to protect the adjoining land owner from damage caused by said entry. No person so entering on land of another shall store material or tools thereon for more than eight hours in any one day nor shall he continue to enter thereon for more than thirty days in the aggregate in any calendar year. After said entry, said owner shall in all respects restore said adjoining land to the condition in which it was prior to said entry.


This law certainly seems to apply to your situation.  Note, however, that before you trespass on the neighbor's property you need to speak to the local police and post a bond.  You will also have to make sure that your contractor does not keep his tools or work on the neighbor's property for more than eight hours.  For more information or to post a question, visit our MA Real Estate Law Discussion Forum.  Good luck.

I have a similar situation and the neighbor is requesting several different insurance documents be presented to her before allowing our contractor on her property and I want to know if we need to have the contrctor present any insurance information to her. at this point she is so unreasonable that we do not want to give into any of her demands. if the law that was referenced allows us to post the bond and then have our contractor go onto her property that is the course of action we will take. we will also demand that she remove the fence post that she attached to our building without permission to create a gated fence across her driveway which abuts the side of our building.

I am going to give you one of my "if I were you" answers:  Make one last effort to be reasonable with your apparently unreasonable neighbor.  If you give her the insurance and license information (which your contractor is required to have by law) perhaps she will let you on her property without the added expense of paying for the bond.  I am not sure, but I am willing to guess that even if you pay for the bond, you neighbor may still be entitled to view the documents in questions before she allows the contractor on her property.  If I were her, I would certainly try to see the license and proof of insurance.  Good luck.

We live in an 8-unit condominium building. Our next-door neighbor wants to remove our fence, which is on our side of the lot line, and use our driveway for the duration of the work to paint and replace windows on the side of his building abutting our driveway and to access his back yard for big renovations to his building (including rebuilding the foundation). His house is inches from our lot line. To accomplish this, he wants to use our driveway, limiting our residents' access to their homes (he does not have a driveway) for 8 hours a day. This will be an enormous burden for our residents. Are we required to give him access even though our residents will be greatly inconvenienced?

The second part is that he wants permanent access to our driveway so he can install a parking area in his back yard. He's offered $5000 for permanent access and 25% of our snow removal costs. The condo association has rejected this proposal outright (because we already have traffic issues with our residents' 10 cars on the narrow driveway) , but we suspect that he will claim that since he has used it for the renovation, he can retain use of our driveway for access to the new parking in his backyard.

Do you have advice on our course of action? What restrictions can we put on the use of our driveway? Do we need to retain a lawyer?

I do not believe that Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266, Section 120B, discussed above, contemplates the actions your neighbor wishes to take.  In fact, Section 120B specifically mentions that the repairs should be made without damage to the neighboring property.  Beyond that, absent some license or right of way that I am not aware of, your condo association is under no legal obligation to grant permanent access to or use of its land, regardless of whether the abutting owner is allowed to use the land temporarily for repairs.  Depending on how this plays out, you should certainly consider retaining an attorney, both to fight any attempt to use Section 120B in a way that would be highly detrimental to your use and enjoyment of the condo land and to negotiate more favourable terms for the neighbor's continued use of the land, if that is something the association is interested in.  Good luck.

Talk to a Real Estate Lawyer Today
Most offer FREE Consultations
Connect with The Forum
facebook google twitter linkedin