Question: I just bought a beachfront home, because it was my lifelong dream to have a private beach.  However, I am told that members of the public can cross my beach anytime.  Is this true?

Answer: I am happy to answer your question, but I may need to perform field research this weekend.  Thanks to centuries old Massachusetts case law, I have the right to visit part of your beach.

Your land may abut the ocean, but the public can use the land between the high tide and low tide lines.  Cape Cod Realtor, Trisha Daly-Karlson recently wrote “The intertidal zone or “wet sand area” is subject to certain public rights that were reserved when the land became private in the first place.”  She continues, “original laws that granted private ownership reserved the rights of “fishing, fowling, navigation and the “natural derivatives” of these uses – such as swimming.

Folks who allow members of the public to cross their land to access the intertidal zone need not be concerned with liability, in case of a fall or injury on their land.  Property owners who allow public use of land for free recreational purpose are shielded from liability for injuries, barring negligent or reckless conduct.

These generous landowners should be aware for loss of ownership rights to the passage area granted.  Similar to adverse possession – the theory of prescriptive easement allows the public to gain ownership of your land by prolonged open use.

You will be happy to know, the dry beach area inland of the high tide line is your private area, just like your house lot.

Attorney James Haroutunian practices real estate law, estate planning and probate at 790 Boston Road, Billerica, MA. He gladly invites questions at or by phone at 978-671-0711.  His website blog is found at and

Seychelles, Beach, Beachfront, Sand

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>