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Massachusetts Condo Unit Owner Makes Legal Claim to Parking Spot Located on Defendant’s Property

A dispute over parking may become a legal issue if it interferes with the property rights of one or more individuals.  For many condo residents, legal claims pertaining to their building may only be asserted by the owner, which is typically a condominium trust.  In such cases, the interests of the condominium trust must be represented by a Massachusetts real estate attorney during the legal proceedings.

In a January 7, 2018 case, the Land Court determined whether the plaintiff had the right to park on abutting property owned by the defendant. The plaintiff in the case was an individual owner of a residential condo unit.  She was also a trustee of the condominium trust that owned the condo building.  She filed her action in Land Court, without the representation of an attorney, in both her individual capacity and her capacity as a trustee.

In Massachusetts, while a person may represent oneself in most legal proceedings, only a member of the bar may represent another person or entity before a court.  Therefore, as an initial matter, the Land Court ruled that the plaintiff could not bring claims on behalf of the trust pro se, and that those claims must be dismissed. The court then went on to address her individual claims against the defendant.

In her petition, the plaintiff contended that because she had an express right of way easement across the defendant’s property, she also had the right to park on it.  Alternatively, the plaintiff argued that she had acquired a prescriptive easement to park there.

The Land Court agreed that while the condo unit owners and other neighboring property owners had an express easement in the right of way across the defendant’s land, there was no mention in the deed of any right to park.  Further, the general rule in Massachusetts is that rights to pass and repass do not include the right to park except for temporary stops incident to travel.  The fact that parking rights were not expressly included in the grant led the court to conclude that no such rights were intended.  Had it been essential, it would have been included in the easement language.

Without an express easement, the plaintiff could only establish her parking rights on the defendant’s property through an exception.  One exception under Massachusetts law provides that the defendant takes her land subject to a parking easement if it had been previously registered, and the defendant failed to reasonably investigate the issue.  The court found that this was not the case, as parking rights had never been expressly provided in a prior deed.  Another exception involves the defendant taking property subject with actual notice of an unregistered easement by actual notice, which the court also concluded was not applicable under the facts of the case.  Accordingly, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims for parking rights on the defendant’s property.

The Massachusetts attorneys at Pulgini & Norton can assist condo owners and other individuals in any residential real estate matter.  From mortgage financing to zoning appeals, our experienced property lawyers work tirelessly to help clients achieve their real estate goals.  If you need legal advice, contact our office by phone at (781) 843-2200 or online and schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable property attorney at Pulgini & Norton.

More Blog Posts:

Condo Unit Owners Spar Over Parking Rights in Massachusetts Land Court Case, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published May 29, 2018

Massachusetts Homeowners Succeed in Action Against Developer to Oppose Access Road Through Their Property, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published September 12, 2018

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