Year: 2009

December 19, 2009

When Congress enacted the Bankruptcy reform law four years ago, condominium industry executives predicted accurately that it would provide essential relief for community associations.  But no one predicted just how timely and welcome that relief would be.  The reforms, in tandem with the statutory super lien, have unquestionably helped to insulate Massachusetts communities from the worst effects of what is probably the steepest economic downturn most have confronted. The sweeping overhaul of the bankruptcy rules [Read More...]

December 1, 2009

What is it with lawyers and latin phrases? Don’t we charge our clients enough? I would be particularly embarrassed if I had to take a phone call from a client to explain that what the phrase in a legal brief or a letter I just charged them for means, in english. Those who know me, know that I am more likely to use a creative expletive than a latin phrase or an obscure quote from [Read More...]

December 1, 2009

Last year my December column shocked a number of people when I suggested that Boards craft rules permitting reasonable holiday decorations. Many thought that it might have been the spiked eggnog I had been drinking just before putting pen to paper (Yes, I still use those time honored instruments.) Others suggested I was just mellowing with age (Yes, like a fine wine – Apple, Ripple, etc.) Whatever the cause, it struck me last year that [Read More...]

December 1, 2009

MEEB attorneys Edmund Allcock, co-chair of the CAI RI Legislation Action Committee, and Janet Oulousian Aronson have followed up last year’s success in passing ground breaking super-lien legislation in Rhode Island by proposing House Bill 5906, which was sponsored by Representative Patricia Serpa (D) of West Warwick, RI. House Bill 5906 would require unincorporated condominium associations to record the names and contact information for members of the board at least annually, and more often if [Read More...]

November 20, 2009

We are pleased to inform you that on November 19, 2009, the Massachusetts House and Senate passed legislation that includes provisions that will exempt condominiums from the corporate excise tax.  In July 2008, the legislature passed a bill containing major corporate tax reforms.  Under these 2008 reforms, condominiums would have been subject to a minimum corporate tax of $456, along with an increased rate on taxable income.  However, the legislation passed on November 19, 2009, [Read More...]

November 19, 2009

If you thought the stricter standards Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have established for condominium loans were causing headaches for community associations, you may want to increase your aspirin budget:  The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has published new rules for condominium loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) that could prove to be even more problematic than the secondary market guidelines now in effect. (You can read the FHA’s newly issued [Read More...]

October 1, 2009

Anyone with a teenage daughter has had the experience of a smoke detector activating after one of their marathon shower adventures. The steam from the shower hits the detector and, before you know it, all the alarms in the house are sounding. Effective January 1, 2010, chances are that these false alarms will be a thing of the past. Effective January 1, 2010, a new regulation relating to the installation and maintenance of “technologically advanced” [Read More...]

October 1, 2009

Since the passage of Chapter 400 of 1992, the Massachusetts Condominium Act, M.G.L. 183A Section 6(c), was amended to provide Condominium Associations with a priority lien, otherwise known as the superlien. For the past fifteen years, this law has enabled Massachusetts Condominium Associations to greatly reduce and, in many cases, altogether avoid any of financial devastation that previously resulted when a Unit was foreclosed upon by a Lender or the Owner had filed bankruptcy. There [Read More...]

October 1, 2009

The Massachusetts Department of Environment Protection (“DEP”) has proposed new stormwater management regulations that could have a drastic impact on condominiums. The idea behind this new program is to reduce stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces, such as parking lots and roofs, which eventually pollute rivers and streams. The new regulations would require that private property owners take certain steps to mitigate and control pollutants from stormwater runoff. Whether a condominium would be subject to these [Read More...]

September 19, 2009

If there is one word that describes the reaction of board members asked to allow “comfort” or “emotional support” animals in communities that otherwise prohibit pets, it is probably, “Grrrr!”  This is not because association boards are unsympathetic to the needs of residents who have disabilities requiring the assistance comfort animals can provide; it is because it is often difficult to distinguish between the requests of owners who legitimately need pets, and those who simply [Read More...]

September 1, 2009

Say the word “eviction”, and most landlords cringe in a manner usually reserved for when you hear nails on a chalkboard. Eviction actions, technically known as Summary Process, can be a dangerous labyrinth in which a landlord can be lost for what seems an eternity. However, as the name suggests, Summary Process is intended, and with the right approach can be, a summary process. This article is intended to identify some of the pitfalls which [Read More...]

September 1, 2009

Identity theft can happen to anyone. The phone rings and a collection agency demands that you pay past-due accounts for goods you never ordered. The supermarket refuses your checks because you have a history of bouncing them. But you have always paid bills on time. What has happened? Identity Theft. Massachusetts has become one of the most aggressive states in the country regarding protecting personal data. In November 2008, The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs [Read More...]

September 1, 2009

Several years ago a property manager and board of trustees were sued by a unit owner claiming that the information provided on the so-called Fannie Mae Affidavit/Lender Questionnaire was incorrect. This case has been making its way through the legal system since that time. The Appeals Court just ruled that in fact the Association and manager were responsible for the information on the questionnaire. The Court ruled that the information regarding a special assessment was [Read More...]

August 20, 2009

As the housing market malaise lingers, more struggling homeowners are turning to short sales as an alternative to foreclosure.  In a short sale, the lender allows the owner to sell the home for less than the outstanding mortgage, writing off the difference as a loss. Because the loss on a short sale loss can be 30 percent less than the loss on a foreclosure, banks are becoming more receptive to this option.  The National Association [Read More...]

August 1, 2009

Most condominium documents require condominiums to be insured at full replacement cost. However, most insurance policies do not guarantee full replacement cost (although such policies are available on a limited basis) but typically set a dollar sum certain policy limit. The policy limit is established by the insurer based on a formula, which relies heavily upon square footage. This makes sense, as the cost to rebuild a condominium or any building is typically broken down [Read More...]

August 1, 2009

The resurgence of bedbugs in the United States has risen to epidemic levels with some calling it the “new mold”. First, some interesting facts about these lovely creatures: For centuries bedbugs have been driving sleepers crazy. These small (⅓ to ¼ inches long) biting bugs like warm environments, such as beds, and can survive for up to one (1) year without food. Their food of choice is blood, particularly human, and when they bite, they [Read More...]

July 20, 2009

Most condominium boards are struggling, to some extent, with delinquent common area fees, budget shortfalls, rising foreclosures and other collateral damage from the economic downturn.  Many condominiums will also confront, if they haven’t already, another problem, painfully familiar to anyone who recalls the last crushing real estate downturn in the 1980s—arrested developments. Some developers who began large-scale, multi-phased projects in happier times earlier in this decade have hit an economic wall.  They successfully completed the [Read More...]

July 1, 2009

In accordance with the passage of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is implementing a new approval process for Condominium Projects to insure mortgages on individual condominium units under Section 203(b) of the National Housing Act. FHA will now allow lenders to determine project eligibility, review project documentation, and certify to compliance of Section 203(b) of the NHA and 24 CFR 203 of HUD’s regulations. HUD will [Read More...]

July 1, 2009

“A Man’s House is His Castle” is the common expression illustrating the principle of individual privacy in one’s home. Tell a person what they “can’t” do in their home, and you are likely to have this phrase thrown back at you. Yet as part of being a member of an organized society, we all cede some measure of control over or homes. Whether it is in the form of zoning restrictions, criminal laws, or contract [Read More...]

July 1, 2009

As summer begins we are sure that the farthest thing from your mind is tax season – however, recent changes to Massachusetts tax policy will have a sweeping affect on condominium and homeowners associations. On July 3, 2008, the Governor signed into law An Act Relative to Tax Fairness and Business Competitiveness (the “Act”). This law includes major corporate tax reform provisions. Included in these reforms are new “check the box” entity classification rules. Previously, [Read More...]