Massachusetts Agencies

Common Scheme

Restrictions and Reverters

The existence of a "common scheme" does not impose restrictions on other lots, but rather identifies those parcels that are entitled to enforce the restrictions. Where, for example, restrictions are imposed on one lot they are not thereby implied as being imposed upon another lot. To the contrary, if there is a common scheme, then the second lot may be able to enforce the restrictions upon the first. In this regard, the provisions of G.L.c. 184, §§26, 27 essentially codify what was said in Snow v. Van Dam, 291 Mass. 477, 197 N.E. 224:

In the present case, unless the lots of the plaintiff and the defendant were included in one scheme of restrictions, there is nothing to show that the restrictions upon the lot of the defendant were intended to be appurtenant to the lots of the plaintiff.

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What is meant by a "scheme" of this sort? * * * Where a scheme exists, it appears to be the law of England and some American jurisdictions that a grantee subject to restrictions acquires by implication an enforceable right to have the remaining land of the vendor, within the limits of the scheme, bound by similar restrictions. [Citations omitted.] But it was settled in this commonwealth by Sprague v. Kimball, 213 Mass. 380, 100 N.E. 622, that the statute of frauds prevents the enforcement against the vendor, or any purchaser from him, of a lot not expressly restricted, of any implied or oral agreement that the vendor's remaining land shall be bound by restrictions similar to those imposed upon lots conveyed. Only where, as in [recitation of cases] the vendor binds his remaining land by writing, can reciprocity of restrictions between the vendor and the vendee be enforced.

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Nevertheless, the existence of a "scheme" continues to be important in Massachusetts for the purpose of determining the land to which the restrictions are appurtenant . . . .

The fact that the developer has sold all the properties in the area and own no remaining benefited property is not dispositive of the issue. The developer's grantees—the successors to the developer's land—may have a right to enforce the restrictions. See Storey v. Brush, 256 Mass. 101, 152 N.E. 225 (1926).