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Massachusetts Zoning & Land Use Blog

Implied easements: what are they and what do they mean for me?

Legal issues related to property are complex, and they can be difficult to understand for a person who is unfamiliar with and does not understand real estate and property laws. When it comes to navigating some of the complex issues that can arise, it is useful to work with a lawyer with experience in Massachusetts property law.

Easements are some of the most complicated matters to address when it comes to your property rights. Having an easement means that you have a non-possessing yet legally binding interest in another person's property. As an example, an easement would allow you to enter private property if it is the only way to gain access to public property.

Real help for avoiding problems with real estate transactions

The decision to buy or sell a house is a major legal and financial decision, one that can have a serious impact on personal finances for decades to come. Because of the long-reaching impact of a transaction of this magnitude, you would be wise to work actively to avoid potential problems and eliminate complications at every step.

Most people see the importance of having the assistance of a realtor, but few see how important it can be to have a real estate attorney as well. Even a seemingly straightforward transaction can become complicated, and you could certainly benefit from knowledgeable guidance as you deal with real estate contracts.

Challenging Zoning Bylaws: Standing: Another Jurisdictional Consideration

This is the fourth in a series of posts on challenges to zoning bylaws and ordinances. Before reaching the merits of zoning challenges, one more jurisdictional issue should be considered: standing-also referred to in the case law as "harm", "injury" or "aggrievement". "'The question of standing is one of critical significance. "From an early day it has been an established principle in this Commonwealth that only persons who have themselves suffered, or who are in danger of suffering, legal harm can compel the courts to assume the difficult and delicate duty of passing upon the validity of the acts of a coordinate branch of government.'"' Ginther v. Commissioner of Ins., 427 Mass. 319, 322 (1988), quoting Tax Equity Alliance v. Commissioner of Revenue, 423 Mass. 708, 715 (1996), ultimately quoting Doe v. The Governor, 381 Mass. 702, 705 (1980).

Understanding the lingo could keep you from crossing the line

One of the biggest considerations regarding your property is where it begins and ends. In some cases, you and your neighbor or some other third party could end up in a dispute regarding exactly where those lines lie. Boundary disputes can quickly become complicated and could require court intervention to resolve.

As you attempt to resolve the matter, you could hear several words thrown around by the other party or the attorneys. Understanding the meanings of those words may alleviate some of your frustration and trepidation regarding the process as you work to resolve your property issues.

It's your land, isn't it? The answer could be yes and no

You want to purchase a piece of property. As you review the deed and legal description of the property, you discover that someone else has the right to use a portion of it. Easements are fairly common, but that does not mean that you shouldn't review them to determine how they will affect your use of the property.

An easement allows another party to use part of your land for some purpose. You retain ownership of the property. In some cases, you might continue to use the property, but in others, you may not.

Clouds and disputes: When a title search reveals trouble

You have found the property for which you've been looking. Whether you intend to purchase a new home or a building for your business, it is not easy to find the place that has everything on your wish list. When you do, you certainly want to act quickly to secure the property.

The transfer of real estate titles is complex. Proving the current owner has the legal right to sell the property is one of the most important aspects of a real estate sale. A comprehensive title search typically reveals any issues that may complicate the sale. When research into the history of the property reveals that someone else may have a claim to it, real estate law says there is a cloud on the title.

PRIVATE WAY MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS, PART I: COMMON LAW

Massachusetts contains thousands of private streets and ways; on and along those ways innumerable residents of this Commonwealth live. We know that the Derelict Fee Statute operates to resolve ownership questions regarding these private ways. However, the "statute pertains only to the question of ownership of the fee [in a private way]"; it does not govern use, maintenance, or other rights and/or obligations over a way, which, for the purposes of this blog post, fall within the province of the common law of easements. Adams v. Planning Bd. of Westwood, 64 Mass. App. Ct. 383, 389 (2005).

A denied building permit is not the end of your options

Boston is a historical city, and there are dozens of important historical sites and old valuable properties scattered across the city. Because of this, the city authorities uphold a strict zoning code in order to protect the history of Boston, the integrity of neighborhoods and the preservation of certain buildings.

Phillips & Angley Successfully Defeats Summary Judgment in ZBA Failure to Send Notice of Remand Hearings to Party-In-Interest in Land Court

On February 13, 2017, the Land Court, Scheier, J., issued an Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment in Heller v. Conner et al., Land Court Docket No. 15 MISC 0000481 (KFS) in which the court denied a motion for summary judgment against the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Plymouth (the "Board"), and P&A's client, Kingstown Corporation ("Kingstown"). The order rejected the plaintiffs' claim that the failure to mail notice of a zoning hearing to a party-in-interest was a fatal flaw in the public hearing process prescribed by G. L. c. 40A § 11, where that party-in-interest is a plaintiff in the ongoing de novo appeal of the permitting issued through that process.

Starting a business? Choosing the right location is key.

There are many things to consider when starting a business, and one of the most important is choosing the right location. Location is the key element in any real estate transaction, and, like buying a home, it is important to put the effort and time into researching, budgeting and making the best choice for the success and longevity of your Massachusetts small business.