Massachusetts Appeals Court Affirms Finding of Abandoned Easement

In a recent real estate case, Siebecker v. Orefice, Mass. App. Ct. (2015), the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled on an appeal stemming from a lower court decision regarding an easement. The lower court found that the defendant’s right to an easement was both extinguished and abandoned, from which the defendant appealed.

The Appeals Court found that there was no evidence that the defendant had used the easement in any way, either by the defendant or her predecessors for the entire 101 years of the easement over the plaintiff’s property. In this case, however, there was additional acquiescence in regards to the plaintiffs’ conduct on the disputed area, which the trial court judge combined with the nonuse to support the finding of an intent to abandon. The Appeals Court then cited to the rule that a failure to protest acts that are inconsistent with the existence of an easement, especially when one is aware of the right to use the easement, can permit an interference of abandonment.

Regarding the trial court judge’s finding that the easement was extinguished, the Appeals Court found that the factual findings regarding the effect of the plaintiffs’ use of the property was adequately supported.

The defendant argued that she was not aware of the legal theory of abandonment. However, the Appeals Court found that the defendant did not demonstrate any evidence of behavior aside from the nonuse of the disputed area, and as a result she failed to demonstrate any prejudice. Therefore, the judgment was affirmed.

As a buyer of a home in Boston, you will need to find out whether the property is burdened by an easement or other restriction. An easement is the right of another person to use your property according to specifications in the instrument that grants the easement. Some easements can have a significant impact on your right to use portions of the property or your efforts to alter or expand the property. Other easements are standard. If you are buying a property that has the benefit of an easement on another property, this is called the dominant estate, and the other property is the servient estate. Easements can arise by express agreement and may be recorded in the registry of deeds, or they can be acquired in other ways. In this case, it was the dominant estate that was found to have forfeited its easement by nonuse and the allowance of the plaintiffs to use the area in question.

The experienced Massachusetts real estate attorneys at Pulgini & Norton can help you with all of your real estate legal needs. If you are having an issue regarding an easement, or have any other question regarding buying, selling, or financing a home, give us a call today at 781-843-2200 or contact our office online, and we can help legally clear the way for you.

More Blog Posts:

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rules in Real Estate Contract Breach Case, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published June 3, 2015

The Advantage of Hiring a Massachusetts Property Transaction Lawyer, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published May 28, 2015

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