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Old 07-13-2016, 02:46 PM
 
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My family has a summer cottage in the Berkshires, over the past few years a number of abutting property owners have changed and we have been getting some push back on private roads that have always been used to access ours and some other cottages. The road essentially runs in front of the houses and a pond. There does not seem to be any easements called out in the deeds but it does mention the road and it shows up in some of the property drawings but not all. The deed does mention the road is there for access to another property but its named to a long gone previous owner of the property and no other description of the property to be accessed is given. (I have a request into the registry to see if I can find which parcel it actually is). Now if it was written as an easement I would understand all this would convey easily but the situation here seems murkier. The road has been in consistent use by property owners since at least the 1960's. So my question would be how safe is our access or should we be working to have an easement put in?

Thanks
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Old 07-13-2016, 03:09 PM
 
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You need to talk to a property lawyer to get any meaningful advice.
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Old 07-13-2016, 05:19 PM
 
Location: East Coast
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Yes, you need to consult with an attorney. The house has to have access to the roadways, and if this access has been in continuous, open usage for 50 years it sounds like you should be safe. But you need to discuss all the facts with a local attorney who is familiar with MA property law.
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Old 07-13-2016, 06:05 PM
 
Location: Massachusetts & Hilton Head, SC
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Call a local Real Estate attorney. If you need a reference, call the Berkshire county bar association.
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Old 07-13-2016, 08:18 PM
 
Location: Needham, MA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chicagoliz View Post
Yes, you need to consult with an attorney. The house has to have access to the roadways, and if this access has been in continuous, open usage for 50 years it sounds like you should be safe. But you need to discuss all the facts with a local attorney who is familiar with MA property law.
I agree. Talk to a real estate attorney. If you're getting flack from your new neighbors about using the road, you may want to talk to the attorney about establishing a prescriptive easement. (Prescriptive Easements - FindLaw).
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Old 07-14-2016, 05:01 AM
 
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I speak from experience: You can lessen the financial burden by spending a day at the Registry of Deeds and pulling the deeds for your property and those around you to bring to the lawyer. We had 5 lawsuits in our neighborhood over easements. The shortest one went 3 years and that was to prove a prescriptive easement. A body of water was involved which always makes things more interesting but just know access is worth 1% of a property's value.
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Old 07-14-2016, 06:35 AM
 
Location: East Coast
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Originally Posted by Beachcomber4 View Post
I speak from experience: You can lessen the financial burden by spending a day at the Registry of Deeds and pulling the deeds for your property and those around you to bring to the lawyer. We had 5 lawsuits in our neighborhood over easements. The shortest one went 3 years and that was to prove a prescriptive easement. A body of water was involved which always makes things more interesting but just know access is worth 1% of a property's value.
This is good advice -- the more information you can bring to the attorney initially, the better off you'll be.
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Old 07-15-2016, 11:34 AM
 
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Yes I have started pulling deeds. It seems some were copy and pasted from older deeds in many cases. One neighbors deed mentions a road for access to (persons name) property but I haven't been able to locate that persons deed in records searches to determine is it's our property or one of the neighbors. Given the length of time and the fact the road is mentioned in deeds I hope we are safe but you never know. I spoke with the registry of deeds and they acknowledged they may not be online yet so I may need to pay for a few photo copies. I find it interesting that the road is drawn in on one neighbors plot plan but it does not match up on other adjoining drawings, many of these drawings were done decades apart (our last one was in 1970). Adding to all this is that not all the cottages are going just to new owners some of the properties away from the water are being bought up in mass by developers and investment companies, which makes me nervous.
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Old 07-15-2016, 11:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by East of the River View Post
Yes I have started pulling deeds. It seems some were copy and pasted from older deeds in many cases. One neighbors deed mentions a road for access to (persons name) property but I haven't been able to locate that persons deed in records searches to determine is it's our property or one of the neighbors. Given the length of time and the fact the road is mentioned in deeds I hope we are safe but you never know. I spoke with the registry of deeds and they acknowledged they may not be online yet so I may need to pay for a few photo copies. I find it interesting that the road is drawn in on one neighbors plot plan but it does not match up on other adjoining drawings, many of these drawings were done decades apart (our last one was in 1970). Adding to all this is that not all the cottages are going just to new owners some of the properties away from the water are being bought up in mass by developers and investment companies, which makes me nervous.
I hope you find a good lawyer and have title insurance.
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Old 07-15-2016, 11:54 AM
 
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One other issue is of parking we have been parking in a area between two private roads a few hundred yards from the cottage, we used to park closer but about 20 years ago we had a dispute with a new neighbor who claimed the closer parking area was on his property and included an easement for his access thru the neighboring property. A relative in charge of the cottage at the time spoke with a land law expert who advised the easement did seem to give parking rights to the other owner but we could still use the right of way as it was listed as a private road and crossed our property and had been in use since the cottage was built in the 40's. (this is the same access now in question thanks to another new neighbor) So we could keep the access but not the parking spaces. The current parking area is at an area where a number of properties meet including 2 purchased by investment groups but we have used it for vehicle parking not just the past 20 years but also for visitor parking and storing a small boat and utility trailer since the late 60's. So far no one has questioned us parking there and its essentially a small wedge of unusable land. but we do fear one of the developers that will surely come in may take issue with it.
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