RIGHTS OF ENTRY AND REVERTER

In Massachusetts, the terms of fee simple determinable estates (i.e., to X for so long as the premises are used for residential purposes) and fee simple subject to a right of entry for condition broken estates (i.e., to X, but if the property is used for residential purposes, the grantor may enter and revest title to the premises) are limited by statute.  In order to determine whether the estate is still valid, you must first determine when the right of entry or reverter was created.

If the estate was created before January 2, 1955, apply Mass. Gen. L. c. 260, §31A.  This statute provides that no proceeding seeking to enforce a right of entry or reverter created before January 2, 1955 may be maintained after January 1, 1964 unless on or before January 1, 1964 (i) the condition has been broken or the right of reverter exercised and the individual or entity having the right of entry or reverter has taken possession of the estate (and in the case of entry made after January 1, 1957, the holder of the right of reverter or entry has filed a certificate of entry pursuant to Mass. Gen. L. c. 184, §19), or (ii) the entity holding the right of reverter or entry files a notice with the appropriate registry of deeds describing the affected land, the nature of the right, the instrument creating the right, and the current owner of the affected land.  Although Mass. Gen. L. c. 260, § 31A does not apply to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it does apply to all corporations, charities, other governments or governmental subdivisions, persons under disability and persons located outside the Commonwealth.

If the estate was created after January 1, 1955, apply Mass. Gen. L. c. 184A, §7.  This statute provides that a fee simple determinable estate or a fee simple in land subject to a right of entry for condition broken shall become a fee simple absolute if the specified contingency does not occur within thirty (30) years from the date of its creation.  If the contingency occurs within the specified thirty (30) year period, the succeeding interest is valid notwithstanding the rule against perpetuities.

For application of Mass. Gen. L. c. 260, §31A and Mass. Gen. L. c. 184A, §7, see Howson v. Crombie Street Congregational Church, 412 Mass. 526 (1992)(despite language of Mass. Gen. L. c. 184A, §9, M.G.L. c. 260, §31A and not M.G.L. c. 184A, §7 held to apply to a pre-1955 instrument).

Finally, note that Mass. Gen. L. c. 184, §23B renders void any right of entry or possibility of reverter which "directly or indirectly limits the use or occupancy of real property" on proscribed discriminatory bases.