In Massachusetts, a right of way easement may be legally recognized or established in different ways. In an August 10, 2018 case, adjacent property owners brought their dispute regarding a right of way easement before the Massachusetts Land Court. The defendants in the case claimed the right to use a right of way located on the plaintiff’s property. The plaintiff argued that the defendants had no right to the easement because the right of way was not specifically mentioned in the plaintiff’s certificate of title.
In Massachusetts, a person with a certificate of title to property receives the property free from all encumbrances except those noted on the certificate. Registered land, therefore, generally cannot be burdened with an easement unless it is shown on the certificate of title.
A property owner may, however, take property subject to an unregistered easement under two narrow exceptions. First, registered property may be encumbered by an easement if there are facts described on a certificate of title which would prompt a reasonable purchaser to investigate the issue further, such as by examining other certificates, documents, or plans in the registry system. Second, registered property may be subject to an easement where the purchaser has actual knowledge of a prior unregistered interest, such as an easement.