How Long are Restrictive Covenants Enforceable in Massachusetts?

Properties in subdivisions are often subject to protective covenants and easements that affect the land within the subdivision.

M.G.L. c. 184, §27(b) only permits the imposition of a restrictive covenant for more than 30 years when:

  • The restriction is part of a common scheme.
  • The Provision for extension is made in the original instrument.

In Berger v. 2 Wyndcliff, LLC, 92 Mass.App.Ct. 517 (2017), homeowners in a residential subdivision tried to extend the 30 year time period of restrictive covenants contained in the developer’s original recorded agreement limiting construction on their property and enforce it against a neighbor.

The Massachusetts Court of Appeals decided that the 30 year period for enforcing land use restrictions could not be extended unless the original agreement contained a provision expressly permitting extensions.

Massachusetts courts generally disfavor land use restrictions and will strictly interpret applicable statutes and statutory scheme.

If restrictions have expired and they have not been extended, the property rights of the landowners in the subdivision can change significantly.

Owners of real estate need to pay close attention to statutory time periods for land restrictions as well as other durational periods such as adverse possession and prescriptive easement. Make sure you understand your deed language and any other recorded documents and plans or other agreements that can impact your property rights.

With property ownership, understanding your rights makes it easier to take preventative measures to protect your property before a dispute arises. There are often simple solutions that can be done to protect your ownership rights. Our attorneys our experienced in all real estate related matters from conveyancing to litigating.

Please contact Dillon & Sullivan, Attorneys at Law should you have any questions about real estate law in Massachusetts.