For many homeowners, an unexpected legal claim against their property is unsettling. A Massachusetts real estate attorney can explain the options available and represent homeowners in the proceedings. In an April 6, 2018 case, homeowners sought to prevent the town from using a path on their property to reach a local pond. The homeowners argued that any easement held by the town to use the path had been abandoned.
The homeowners in the case owned property in a subdivision that was laid out on a plan recorded in 1914. That plan, however, had virtually no relationship with how the area actually developed. Many of the lots were combined into larger parcels before houses were built on them, while others were made a part of extensive conservation areas. As a result, many of the roadways on the plan were never built or used, such as the path across the plaintiffs’ property.
The path at issue had never been used as a right of way to the pond by anyone, since the path was located on the plaintiffs’ front lawn, used as part of their driveway, and partially blocked by a stone wall. Nevertheless, the town, which had always used other routes to reach the pond, contended it had the right to use the path for access to the pond. The town’s claimed right of access was based solely on the 1914 subdivision plan.