An easement is a legal right allowing one party to use and enjoy a portion of a second party’s property for a certain purpose without actually owning it.  Easements are common in residential situations.  For example, you may hold an easement allowing you to cross a portion of your neighbor’s property to access the street.  Also, you may have a neighbor who holds an easement allowing her to cross your property to gain access to a public park or pathway. 

If you own land subject to an easement, you may be able to change the location or dimension of the easement.   In  M.P.M. Builders, LLC v. Dwyer, 442 Mass. 87 (2006), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court stated that the owner of property subject to an easement could make reasonable changes in the location or dimensions of an easement (at his own expense) to permit normal use or development.  Easement relocation is permitted as long as doing so (a) would not significantly lessen the utility of the easement; (b) would not increase burdens on the easement holder in using and enjoying the easement; and (c) would not frustrate the purpose of the easement.   Notably, easements can only be relocated where the deed creating the easement does not expressly prohibit relocation.

If you are being prevented from using or developing your property in a manner you desire because of an existing easement, you may want to think about taking legal action to have the easement relocated.  At Doherty, Ciechanowski, Dugan & Cannon, we are familiar with the process and regularly litigate cases before the Land Court.  Please contact Attorney Michael Doherty, Craig Ciechanowski or Edward Cannon at Doherty, Ciechanowski, Dugan & Cannon, P. C. if you would like to discuss your land use question.