The Justices of the Land Court have proposed this Standing Order to establish a judicial avenue for interested parties to seek determinations and remedies concerning land instruments and documents containing provisions made void by the operation of Chapter 184, § 23B (referred to as “Prohibited Restrictions”). That statute declares void any “provision in an instrument relating to real property which purports to forbid or restrict the conveyance, encumbrance, occupancy, or lease thereof to individuals of a specified race, color, religion, national origin or sex” with a limited exception for real property held by a religious or denominational institution or organization.
Pursuant to this proposed Standing Order, an owner of land, the Recorder, a Register of Deeds (including a Register of Deeds acting as Assistant Recorder of the Land Court), or other interested party, may file a Complaint with the Land Court to establish that certain provisions are Prohibited Restrictions and therefore void under Chapter 184, § 23B. Parties may request declaratory and such other relief as the Court may consider proper. The Standing Order further directs that, after its effective date, all Certificates of Title and Memoranda of Condominium Unit Ownership thereafter issued by the Land Registration Districts of the Land Court shall contain a legend regarding the treatment of such void provisions.
In connection with the promulgation of the proposed Standing Order, the Land Court Chief Title Examiner will issue a Memorandum concerning the implementation of the Standing Order and new registered land policies related thereto. The proposed Chief Title Examiner Memorandum provides that in cases where a Prohibited Restriction is set forth on the face of, or referenced in, the Certificate of Title or Memorandum of Condominium Unit Ownership, the Land Registration District personnel shall prepare a new Certificate of Title or Memorandum of Condominium Unit Ownership without inclusion of the express language of the Prohibited Restriction. In any cases of doubt, the District personnel may seek guidance from the Chief Title Examiner. Where a Prohibited Restriction appears in a document presented for Registration, the proposed Chief Title Examiner Memorandum directs the Assistant Recorder of the District to submit promptly a form Complaint to the Land Court. Owners and other interested parties seeking judicial remedies related to Prohibited Restrictions may also file a form Complaint with the Land Court. There will be no filing fees due to the Land Court for filing such Complaints.
Linked below is a copy of the proposed Land Court Standing Order and the proposed Chief Title Examiner Memorandum. Comments should be sent by email to Lauren Reznick, Assistant Deputy Court Administrator-Legal Counsel, Administrative Office of the Land Court, at Lauren.Reznick@jud.state.ma.us on or before June 4, 2021. Comments received will be made available to the public upon written request.
Chief Title Examiner Memo: Proposed Land Court Memorandum Re: Prohibited Restrictions Under G.L. c. 184, § 23B; Mandatory Legends to Be Added to Newly Issued Certificates of Title; Land Court Standing Order _-21