Property can be restricted in any number of ways through various legal means, such as a covenant or easement, often surviving a transfer of ownership. In an August 11, 2017 Massachusetts real estate case, a plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment from the Land Court stating that she had an affirmative view easement over the property of the defendant. The defendant sought a contrary declaration, arguing that the recorded documents did not support the plaintiff’s position.
The parties in the case lived in the same subdivision on neighboring lots. The plaintiff claimed she had an easement pursuant to the subdivision’s Protective Covenant Agreement, which allowed her to compel other lot owners to trim their trees in order to protect her view of the sound. She filed an action seeking to compel the defendant to top trees on the defendant’s property, asserting that the trees were blocking her view of the sound.
The Protective Covenant Agreement at issue provided that trees may be topped to preserve the view at the expense of the requesting lot owner and with the consent of the developer. The Agreement also stated that subsequent plantings shall not be permitted to grow in such a manner as materially to obstruct the view of others. Despite the fact that the Protective Covenant itself expired in 2002, the plaintiff argued that it created an easement that survived the expiration and remained valid.