Servitudes

Short term rental use held not to violate covenant prohibiting "commercial activity"

The courts continue to split on this question with the majority holding use of property for short-term rental (such as vacation rental or Airbnb use) is a residential rather than a commercial use. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has joined the courts that have found short-term home rentals to be consistent with a covenant prohibiting "commercial activity."...

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Restrictive covenant held not to be "property" compensable under the takings clause

A town bought a parcel of land subject to a restrictive covenant in order to build a municipal water storage tank contrary to a restrictive covenant prohibiting such construction. The town sued for a declaratory judgment that it could violate the covenant without paying just compensation under the fourteenth amendment's takings clause. Relying on an earlier case decided by the Colorado Supreme Court, Smith v. Clifton...

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No easement relocation without easement owner's consent when it would diminish the easement's utility

Applying the rule in M.P.M. Builders, LLLC v. Dwyer, 809 N.E.2d 1053 (Mass. 2004) and the Restatement (Third) of Property (Servitudes) §4.8(3) (2000), a court has held that a servient estate owner may not relocatee an easement without the consent of the easement owner when it would diminish the utility of the easement.Randon v. Kiley-Ladd, 2018 Mass. LCR LEXIS 152, 2018 WL 3567179 (Mass. Land Ct. 2018). The court... Read more about No easement relocation without easement owner's consent when it would diminish the easement's utility

Airbnb use held to be consistent with covenant restricting property to residential use

Courts have divided on the question of whether short-term rentals violate restrictive covenants limiting land to residential purposes. The Texas Supreme Court just joined the majority that hold that use of property for Airbnb and similar short term rentals is residential use consistent with the covenant. Tarr v. Timberwood Park Owners Ass'n, 2018 Tex. LEXIS 442 (Tex 2018). But see ... Read more about Airbnb use held to be consistent with covenant restricting property to residential use

Nonuse insufficient to show an easement was abandoned and it is not extinguished by prescription when a locked gate did not make it impossible for the easement owner to use the right of way

A locked gate did not extinguish the right to use an express easement when the fence was intended to keep out the public and did not prevent the easement owner from accessing the right of way. Twenty Bartlett, LLC v. Sgarano, 2018 Mass. Super. LEXIS 104 (Mass. Super. Ct. 2018). Only if an action renders use of an easement "practically impossible" can it start the statute of limitations running for a prescriptive easement that will extinguish the...

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Court wrestles with the question of whether use of a pavement area without permission creates a prescriptive easement or adverse possession

When an owner uses a driveway or pavement area owned by a neighbor, and does with openly and without permission for the statutory period, does the owner get a prescriptive easement to use the area for the specific purposes to which the property was devoted or does the owner acquire full title to the area by adverse possession? The problem arises...

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Owners must continue to pay homeowners association fees to maintain private roads even after all other covenants terminate

A Massachusetts court has held that owners in a homeowners association that have access to shared private roads must continue to pay fees to the association to maintain those roads even after all other covenants terminate. Meadowview Heights Homeowners Ass’n...

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Short term rentals (such as Airbnb) held not to violate a covenant prohibiting "commercial use" contrary to rulings of some other courts

Courts disagree about whether covenants prohibiting "commercial use" of real property apply to short term rentals like Airbnb. While some courts have said that such rentals do constitute commercial use, see, others have found the use not to be commercial but residential in nature. The Arkansas Supreme Court joined the courts that find Airbnb to be a residential rather than a commercial use of property....

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Courts may consider extrinsic evidence to interpret ambiguous easements

A Massachusetts appellate court had the difficult tasking of deciding whether a view easement prohibited all structures or only structures over eight feel high. MacLean v. Conservation Comm'n of Nantucket,(Mass. App. Ct. 2018). The easement language created a "view easement which prohibits any and all structures and/or vegetation with a height greater than eight (8’) feet from existing grade upon and over said lot." The court held that " the absence of a comma after the word 'structures' combined with the use... Read more about Courts may consider extrinsic evidence to interpret ambiguous easements