Legal consequences of the distinction between affirmative easements and restrictive covenants

Massachusetts statutes regulate the enforceability of "covenants" by limiting the circumstances in which they can be enforced, defining when they can be enforced by damages only and not injunctive relief, and subjecting enforcement to a 6 year statute of limitations. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 184 §23A, §30. 

In a recent application of those statutes, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled in BP Watertown Retail, LLC v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 2016 WL 513955 (Mass. App. Ct. 2016), that these limitations do not apply to affirmative easements; rather they apply only to restrictive covenants. So when an owner of a store in a shopping center engaged in construction in a shared parking area, eliminating several parking spaces, its actions did not merely violate the restrictions on construction in the parking area but interfered with access to the parking area by other easement beneficiaries who had a right to use the parking lot without interference. Because the plaintiff's claim was based on the right to use the parking area, rather than a mere right to prevent use by another, it was an affirmative easement not governed by the statutes regulating "covenants."