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Massachusetts Agencies

Reserved to Third Party


An easement reserved to a third party—someone who is not a party to the deed—is void. See Edwards Hall Co. v. Dresser, 168 Mass. 136, 46 N.E. 420, Hazen v. Matthews, 184 Mass. 388, 68 N. E. 838. It could not create any right to a stranger to the deed. Murphy v,. Lee, 144 Mass. 371, 11 N.E. 550, Haverhill Savings Bank v. Griffin, 184 Mass. 419, 68 N. E. 839, Hodgkins v. Bianchini, 323 Mass 169, 80 N.E.2d 464, Orenberg v. Johnston, 269 Mass. 312, 168 N. E. 794.

The rule is similar with respect to restrictions. In Asian American Civic Association v. Chinese ConsolidatedBenevolent Association of New England, Inc., 43 Mass.App.Ct. 145, 681 N.E.2d 882 (1997), further appellate review denied, 426 Mass. 1101, 686 N.E.2d 200 ( 1997) the City of Boston conveyed property to Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New England, Inc. and the deed contained the following language:

The Grantee, for itself, its successors and assigns, agrees to devote the property to the uses specified in its proposal for the purchase of the property dated February 4, 1983, and to use its best efforts to comply with plans and specifications for the renovation prepared by Jung/Brannen Associates and previously submitted to the Grantor.

The "proposal for the purchase of the property" reference in the language in the deed was a letter dated February 4, 1983 in which the following paragraph appeared:

The [property] will be renovated and converted to a multi-purpose Chinese Community Center that will provided accommodation for the [Asian American Civic Association, Inc.] itself and a variety of social service, employment training and cultural programs and activities.

When Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New England, Inc. leased a portion of the property to a third party The Asian American Civic Association, Inc. brought an action claiming its rights to occupancy pursuant to the letter referenced in the deed. In addition to ruling that the indefinite reference statute (G.L.c. 184, §25) prevented rights from inuring to The Asian American Civic Association, Inc. the court noted that the Association had no rights for another reason:

In seeking to establish rights under the deed from the city to [Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New England, Inc., The Asian American Civic Association, Inc.] suffers from the initial embarrassment of not being a party to it. It remains the general rule in Massachusetts that a possessory right said to inhere in a deed cannot successfully be maintained by a person who is a stranger to the deed. (Citations omitted.) See G.L.c. 184, §27(a), requiring that a person who seeks enforcement of a restriction be a party to the recorded instrument that imposes the restriction.