Year: 2018

December 28, 2018

Insurance has become an aspect of daily life. Medical and health insurance, automobile insurance, homeowners insurance…do any of us go very long without dealing with one or more of these?  In the realm of condominiums and homeowner associations, there are multiple and particular forms of additional insurance to be considered.  These policies form a necessary aspect of the association’s overall security (financial and physical).  General liability and property insurance must be carried by the association [Read More...]

December 28, 2018

Many times smaller associations allow for each Unit Owner to be a Trustee and when the number of owners/trustees is two or four invariably there will be instances where the trustees’ votes are split and the question becomes what happens then? Typically in these situations the condominium’s governing documents (Master Deed, Declaration of Trust, Bylaws, etc.) will require either a unanimous vote (say 2-0) or a majority vote (3-1) for the trustees to act, which [Read More...]

December 28, 2018

I am often asked what a board can do about a unit owner whose bad behavior is constantly disrupting the community. Whether it is a unit owner who regularly yells at his neighbors, or one who, after a board issues him a violation notice for an infraction, starts to retaliate against some or all of the board members. This type of behavior causes legitimate fear in the community and the board is often expected to [Read More...]

December 18, 2018

By Jennifer Barnett Condominium board members are often encouraged to be open, honest, and transparent in their communications with the condominium community. However, because of their leadership position, board members often possess confidential information, the disclosure of which may have significant legal and financial implications for the community associations they represent. Confidential information protected by attorney-client privilege is of particular concern. Contrary to a common misunderstanding, the attorney-client privilege doesn’t belong to the attorney; it [Read More...]

December 17, 2018

FIX FOR CONSTRUCTION DEFECT SUITS The Massachusetts House of Representatives has approved legislation that would remove impediments limiting the ability of condominium association to pursue construction defect claims against developers. Under the existing legal framework, a suit must be filed within three years of when defects are discovered (statute of limitations) or within 6 years after substantial completion of the development (statute of repose), regardless of when the problems are identified. Under that structure, developers [Read More...]

November 28, 2018

BETTER BUT NOT GOOD It looked like good news, but it wasn’t, particularly. Existing home sales in October eked out a 1.4 percent increase over the prior month, breaking what had been six consecutive monthly declines. But October sales fell 5.1 percent below the year-ago pace, posting the largest annual decline in four years, and fueling growing concern that the housing market’s woes may be deepening. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of [Read More...]

November 16, 2018

SHORT-TERM RENTAL BATTLE Airbnb, a leading platform for promoting short-term vacation rentals, is challenging a Boston ordinance that would restrict the ability of property owners to rent their residences for short period. Scheduled to take effect January 1 of 2019, the rules require owners to register their short-term rental properties, allow them to list only one unit at a time on host platforms like Airbnb, prohibit investors and tenants from using the platforms (but allow [Read More...]

November 14, 2018

Last week MEEB Attorneys Edmund A. Allcock and Keshav Jha, representing three Boston condominium associations located across the street from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, filed a lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court to compel the City of Boston to enforce its noise ordinance. The parties are awaiting a decision from the Court on a Motion for Preliminary Injunction. As reported in the Boston Globe, the City of Boston noise ordinance, which prohibits all noise above 70 decibels, [Read More...]

November 14, 2018

One of the Board’s important duties is the enactment and enforcement of Rules and Regulations for the benefit of the community. Almost all condominium association’s governing documents, the Master Deed, Declaration of Trust and/or By-Laws give the Board the power to enact Rules and Regulations primarily to govern what may or may not happen in the common areas, without the need for Unit Owner consent/vote. With such a broad power some members of the Board [Read More...]

November 14, 2018

It’s that time of the year when condo boards are preparing their annual budgets ahead of the upcoming annual meeting. Since an owner vote is required to amend your governing documents, having a large amount of the electorate in one place for the annual meeting is the perfect opportunity to pass an amendment. In NH, if your condo’s docs do not provide for the ability to collect rent from delinquent owners’ tenants or for the [Read More...]

November 6, 2018

By Mark Einhorn and Patrick Brady A friend traveling through the deep south many years ago stopped at a small gas station to ask for directions. The owner, happy to oblige, told him: “Go to the end of this road, take a left and….Nope,” he said. “That won’t work.” Thinking again he said, “Go out of the station, turn right and take your first left… Nope,” he said again. “That won’t work either.” After a [Read More...]

November 5, 2018

When MEEB opened its doors in 1993, the legal landscape for condominiums was sparse. “There were maybe 100 cases nationally, and only four appellate cases in Massachusetts,” Seth Emmer, one of the firm’s founding partners recalls.” There was virtually no guidance anywhere,” he adds. “We were making it up as we went along.” Over the past 25 years, that barren landscape has been filled in with precedents and policies, laws and regulations, test cases brought, [Read More...]

November 1, 2018

Keshav is an associate in the firm’s Litigation Department. He joined the firm in 2018 and focuses his practices on real estate, condominium, and contract litigation. Prior to joining the firm, Keshav worked in-house as corporate counsel in the manufacturing industry, overseeing a range of issues. His background in contractual negotiations, employment law, tax, and corporate governance provides a solid foundation for his litigation practice.

October 30, 2018

HOUSING MARKET FALLING DOWN After several months of declining home sales, analysts have begun using the f-word ─ falling ─ to describe the housing market’s trajectory. “The housing market is stumbling through its longest slump in four years, as the divergence between a booming U.S. economy and weakening home sales that many had dismissed as temporary now looks poised to continue,” the Wall Street Journal reported. A combination of rising mortgage rates, relentless home price [Read More...]

October 19, 2018

NOT HEALTHY Despite some recent, small gains, the inventory of available homes for sale remains sparse. The 4.3-month supply reported in October “is far from a healthy level,” the NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, observed. Inventory levels aren’t the only indicator signaling problems ahead for the housing market: Mortgage rates have reached an average of 4.97 percent, their highest level in seven years, approaching the 5 percent mark that some analysts view as a psychological, [Read More...]

October 2, 2018

STEPPING UP Citing continuing job gains, a low unemployment rate and strong spending by businesses and consumers, the Federal Reserve increased interest rates for the third time this year, pushing its target rate up by another quarter-of a point to 2.25 percent. The unanimous vote by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Fed’s policy-making arm, indicated that the board remains on its current course, which calls for gradually increasing rates to prevent a growing [Read More...]

September 20, 2018

TRYING AGAIN Lawmakers, who have been talking about housing finance reform for years, are talking about it once again. With the 10-year anniversary of the conservatorship for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac now logged, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has introduced two measures that would reduce the GSEs’ dominance, giving private capital a larger role in financing home mortgages. One of the measures is a refile of a bill Hensarling [Read More...]

September 18, 2018

The pervasive use of social media in our day-to-day lives is undeniable. It is unsurprising then, that employers, both large and small, are using social media for hiring, disciplinary and termination decisions. However, many employers do not realize that there are inherent risks in doing so. Nearly all employers know that it is unlawful to discriminate against a prospective job applicant based on their membership in a protected class. However, social media accounts typically include [Read More...]

September 18, 2018

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes and common expenses”. Benjamin Franklin – 1789. Okay, not the exact quote. However, if Franklin was alive today and lived in a condominium, his quote would likely have included common expenses. Common expenses are frequently compared to municipal taxes. This makes sense, since both are established by an annual budget and assessed to owners based on individual property values or the percentage [Read More...]

September 10, 2018

Attorney Owens is an associate in the firm’s Litigation Department. He joined the firm in 2018 and focuses his practices on condominium, real estate and construction litigation. Prior to joining the firm, Scott worked eight years as a litigator in a Newton law office, representing institutional lending clients in a variety of default resolution, real estate and general litigation matters. His background in conveyancing, title review and permitting provides a solid foundation for his litigation [Read More...]

September 4, 2018

IN AND OUT Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac thought they might play a constructive role in the single-family rental market. A test program has led the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates the two Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs), to conclude otherwise. “What we learned as a result of the pilots is that the larger single-family rental investor market continues to perform successfully without the liquidity provided by the Enterprises,” FHFA Director Mel Watt said in [Read More...]

August 23, 2018

On August 10, 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law the Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act (the Act), which overhauls existing noncompetition case law and heavily restricts an employer’s ability to limit an employee’s competitive activities. This should be of concern to management companies and condominium associations with employees where employment movement and client solicitation is an issue. The Act takes effect on October 1, 2018 and limits the ability of private employers to enter [Read More...]

August 23, 2018

Flying a drone over neighboring property by itself does not qualify as harassment under state law and a judge should not have stepped in between a father and son feuding over development on adjacent parcels on the South Shore, an appellate court ruled on July 11, 2018. The names of the father and son whose “lamentable history of litigation” sparked the ruling by the Massachusetts Appeals Court was not disclosed in the decision. Instead, they [Read More...]

August 16, 2018

HOUSING UNCERTAINTY What has been a quiet hum of concern about the housing market has grown louder, echoing in the comments of industry analysts and in headlines such as these: “Home Buyer Demand Cools Off”; “Housing Market Showing Signs of Cracking”; “Is the High-Flying Housing Market Heading for a Fall?” Economic reports for June indicate that some key trend lines have begun to shift. Home buyer confidence, housing demand, sales of new and existing homes, [Read More...]

August 4, 2018

CRACKS IN THE FOUNDATION? In the face of rising prices and shrinking inventories, housing demand has remained steady, providing a cornerstone underpinning the housing recovery. But there are signs that cornerstone may be weakening. Bidding wars are becoming less common, days on market are increasing even in the hottest markets, the pace of new construction is slipping, sales of new and existing homes are declining, surveys find fewer prospective buyers think this is a good [Read More...]

July 27, 2018

By Patrick Brady Boston has joined a growing list of cities and towns nationwide moving to regulate and/or restrict the short-term rental of single-family residences. Like other initiatives, the newly enacted Boston ordinance attempts to balance the competing concerns of homeowners, who want or need the revenue generated by renting their homes; vacationers, who want an affordable alternative to hotels; the hotel industry, which objects to what it deems to be unfair competition from properties [Read More...]

July 20, 2018

In most cases the board of an association has the right to enact reasonable rules and regulations, regulating activity and the placement of objects in the common areas of the condominium. I say in “most cases,” because we have learned over time that there is an area where the board may want to avoid regulating and tread lightly in its application of rules, that being in the prohibition of the display of religious items and [Read More...]

July 20, 2018

MEEB has repeatedly advised condominium associations to adopt amendments barring Level 3 sex offenders from being able to live within a condominium. There is case law out of New Jersey upholding a prohibition of Level 3 sex offenders. MEEB believes that such a prohibition would be upheld in Massachusetts, as Level 3 sex offenders are not a protected class and that the protection of women and children in condominiums is a more legitimate concern. While [Read More...]

July 17, 2018

FANNIE EASING Fannie Mae is making it easier to finance investment condominiums. The agency announced recently that it will allow “limited reviews” of condominium properties instead of insisting on more detailed and costlier full reviews required for these loans. Fannie has been allowing limited reviews for loans on owner-occupied condos with down payments of at least 10 percent, but has insisted on full reviews for investment condos, regardless of the down payment size. The new [Read More...]

July 8, 2018

CLIMATE CHANGING THE HOUSING MARKET Climate change is reshaping the housing market. A recent study by Attom Data Solutions finds that consumers are beginning to factor concerns about flooding, wildfires and other climate-related disasters into their decisions about where to live, and those assumptions are beginning to affect home values in some areas. According to the study, home values in areas with high exposure to floods and hurricanes declined on average between 2007 and 2017. [Read More...]