Definition of "Abutter’s rights"

Joan  Means real estate agent

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Joan  Meanselite badge icon

Century 21 Bradley Realty

When someone owns a house that is an abutting property, it means that the property is sharing a boundary with the property next to it. The two abutting properties are adjoining properties as they share a boundary and are the closest in terms of proximity. When someone says a house is abutting, it means it’s directly neighboring; that is, it’s not adjacent to another property. The owners of the two properties are abutters, and next, we'll be talking about abutters' rights. 

So, abutter’s rights are the rights that an existing property owner has when a real estate developer or a different owner builds or expands an abutting property, or even when an existing abutting property landowner decides to make renovations in his property. In both cases, they’d be infringing abutter’s rights if they make alterations that can affect the abutting property, for instance, if they completely block the view from the adjoining property.

Among the abutter’s rights is the visibility at a distance by others – that is; its occupants should be able to see the outside street – the visual right of seeing light and feeling air (one wall can’t be “glued” to the neighbor’s wall), and many more.

The abutter’s rights infringement scenario

Homeowner Sam lives in a house with nothing on its left side but 200 feet of grass that lead to a big pond. Developer Reed buys that space and wants to develop a few commercial establishments on it. It’s Sam’s abutter’s right to be notified of the proposal and be invited (along with other possible abutting properties) by Reed to a public hearing where the development plans will be fully discussed so Sam and others aren’t a part of any substantial changes that might incur because of this new development.

The abutter's rights highway scenario

Homeowner Sam lives in a house that is next to a stretch of land that was recently bought by a real estate developer who intends to build a highway. The developer can infringe the abutter's rights if they do not notify Sam of the proposed development and if they do not make it possible for Sam to dispute the decision in a public hearing. It is also an abutter’s right in this scenario to have access to the highway if there are no limitations imposed like the size of the car, delivery limitations, time-based limitations, etc.


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Have someone who knows abutter’s rights inside out and will fight for *your* rights! Find a real estate agent and make your life easier!

Comments for Abutter’s Rights

Laurie Laurie said:

What is considered an abutter of an abutter in MA

Jul 22, 2021  06:11:32

Real Estate Agent

Hey Laurie! Thank you for reaching out to us. An abutter of an abutter is a person or entity whose property abuts the property of an abutter. An abutter owns a property that is adjacent to another person's property.

Jul 23, 2021  09:16:42
Laurie Laurie said:

Abutters in Boston: how many feet away from development

Jul 22, 2021  06:10:45

Real Estate Agent

Hey Laurie! Thank you for reaching out to us. Depending on the type of development you are referring to, the number of feet required is 5 feet from the side lot line and 10 feet from an existing detached dwelling or main building on an abutting lot.

Jul 23, 2021  09:13:42
Thad Leclair Thad Leclair said:

My neighbor keeps building and turned his two and one half acres in to a farm cows turkeys chickens pigs all this and no abutters ever been contacted is this leagle

Jul 21, 2021  18:29:42

Real Estate Agent

Hey Thad! Thank you for reaching out to us. However, considering the nature of your question, we advise you to contact a lawyer and explain the situation thoroughly. There might even be restrictions based on building ordinances in this situation and these can be handled by a licensed attorney.

Jul 23, 2021  09:05:46
Linda Pezzini Linda Pezzini said:

There is a 12.5 feet parcel of land in between two other property owners. Are they still considered abutters to each other if there is a 12 ft piece of land in between parcels owned by someone else?

Jun 05, 2021  18:58:48

Real Estate Agent

Hey Linda! Thank you for reaching out to us. The term abutting is used when referring to property owners that own parcels of land next to each other. These properties share a boundary, but not another piece of land, but a fence that separated the two properties, for example, or a wall. Even properties that each have a wall close to the wall of the property next to it are abutting properties by building codes. The situation described by you is of two neighbors, similarly to what you'd call the person living across the street from you or in the same apartment complex as you, regardless of how far from your unit their unit is.

Jun 11, 2021  06:55:16
Donald E Cobb Donald E Cobb said:

I have a house next to me that was deserted and is becoming an eye sore. I wanted to know my rights to keep my property from becoming of less value due to this.

Sep 13, 2018  12:50:30

Real Estate Agent

Hey, Donald
There's a lot of factors we'd need to weigh in when figuring out what to do with your situation. Why was it deserted? Sometimes the house is going through inheritance hearings, with the family figuring out who's going to become the owner, and, in the end, especially if the house's situation is as bad as you said, it will end up being sold and someone will build a new house over it. If your home and the deserted house are both in the same Homeowner's Association becomes a little bit better, but other than that, your "rights" are very limited because it's not your house. If the home is too abandoned and its structure is a threat to the neighborhood - not to the neighborhood's sights and aesthetic pleasure - with loose shingles flying during storms, damage electrical wiring and pests, then it's a matter of hazard and you could call the city to fix it independently of the house's current situation.

For all the above, we recommend getting a real estate lawyer to guide you through the specifics of your local area.

Sep 17, 2018  11:01:47
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