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Massachusetts Agencies

Betterment Assessment

Real Estate Taxes and Municipal Charges

The lien for betterment assessments is governed by G.L.c. 80, §12. That statute provides, in part, as follows:

[S]uch lien shall terminate at the expiration of two years from October first in the year in which the assessment is first placed on the annual tax bill . . . or, if an assessment has been apportioned, from October first in the year in which the last portion is so placed upon the annual tax bill, whichever is later, if in the meantime in either case the estate has been alienated and the instrument alienating the same has been recorded.

If the betterment assessment was never "placed on the annual tax bill" (i.e., never billed), it would appear that the period in which the lien would expire never began to run.

Under G.L.c. 60, §23 one might think that the recording of a municipal lien certificate which shows no betterment assessment might ordinarily dissolve any such lien. However, the statute is not applicable if . . .

  1. The certificate shows the betterment assessment; and
  2. The statute does not dissolve liens "concerning which a statement . . . creating . . . such lien has been . . . filed . . . .