Summary of Guillette v. Daly Dry Wall, Inc., Supreme Judicial Ct. of MA (1975)
Parties: DF – appellant Took without knowledge of grantor imposed restrictions on other deeds in a subdivision.
PL – had deed from original grantor restricting the land to single family dwellings. Guillette deed states grantor similarly restricts his remaining land.
Cause of action/remedy sought: The following is an action to enjoin to prevent DF from erecting an apartment building.
Procedural History: Lower court found for PL, DF appeals. This court affirms with costs.
Facts: Original grantor who subdivided land restricted land to single family dwellings, via references in the deeds to a 1967 and 1968 plan. 8 deeds to the lots set out the restrictions or incorporate them by reference. The Guillette deed and one other contains a statement imposing the same restrictions on grantors remaining property.
PL’s purchased three lots from grantor which contained no reference to the deed restrictions but did refer to the 1968 plan. PL had a title examination and learned of the restrictions, then obtained a building permit for an apartment building.
Issue(s): Under MA property law, is PL bound by the deed restrictions when there was no reference to the deed restrictions?
Holding: Yes. PL’s deed mentioned the plan. It was reasonable and not at all impossible to require PL’s title examiner to check all the deeds to the subdivision from the common grantor.
Court’s Rationale/Reasoning: : All the deeds from grantor to PL’s were properly recorded. Because the deeds described an interest in the grantor’s remaining land, it can not be treated as unrecorded, and therefore DF took subject to the restrictions.
DF’s deed mentioned the plan, which was a recorded plan. DF should have searched for it.
Rule: In similar situations, where the common grantor has not bound his remaining land by writing, this court has held that statute of frauds prevents enforcement of restrictions against the grantor or as subsequent purchaser of a lot not expressly restricted. But if the grantor binds his remaining land by writing, reciprocity of restriction between the grantor and grantee can be enforced. This means that person takes title subject to the restrictions in the deed to the earlier purchaser. Each of the several grantees, if within the scope of the common scheme, is an intended beneficiary of the restrictions and may enforce them against the other.
Did court avoid issues?: No.
Dicta: If these restrictions hadn’t been in writing, they wouldn’t have satisfied the statute of frauds.