Year: 2018

June 15, 2018

After months of debate, the Boston City Council on Wednesday passed rules that are designed to sharply rein in Boston’s fast-growing short-term rental business and help ease the tight housing market. The rules, which passed on an 11-to-2 vote, are among the most stringent efforts in the nation to regulate the burgeoning industry. The rules would bar investors and tenants from renting their homes through popular websites such as Airbnb, while allowing homeowners and owner-occupants [Read More...]

June 14, 2018

The ever-changing NH Condo Statute has undergone yet another round of tweaks in the most recent legislative session.  The new statutory provisions discussed below will go into effect as of August 7, 2018. Ballots New paragraph IV of Section 39-a now requires that ballots cast in an association vote—meaning a vote of owners, not of the Board—be counted using a tally sheet.  The new paragraph does not define “tally sheet”, so any piece of paper [Read More...]

June 14, 2018

Last week, the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed a $20 million judgment against Cumberland Farms in connection with a 2010 car crash that involved an elderly man who apparently suffered a stroke, sped through an intersection and crashed into the front of a Cumberland Farms convenience store and gas station located in Chicopee, killing a 43-year old woman who was shopping inside. Although it pertains to an accident at a commercial property open to the general [Read More...]

May 29, 2018

By Mark Einhorn Of all the problems condo associations confront – and there are many – hoarding is among the most difficult. Hoarding is both an illness for the hoarder and a nuisance (or worse) for other residents. Handling hoarding situations require boards and managers to balance two sides of a difficult equation: Sensitivity for the hoarder on one side and their obligation to protect the health, safety and well-being of everyone in the community [Read More...]

May 29, 2018

CONDO CYBER THREATS Although condominium association boards are becoming more aware of cyber-threats, cyber-security has not become a top priority for most, according to a survey conducted by the Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR). Less than half (about 40 percent) of the board members and 46 percent of the managers responding to the survey rated their concern about cybersecurity threats as “strong” or “very strong.” The issue registers more powerfully with association attorneys (53 [Read More...]

May 23, 2018

Where a property manager initiated a summary process action to evict a tenant from a property on behalf of its client, he lacked standing to do so. The court also decided that the property manager was engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.   “Over the last decade, Fred Basile, a property manager, has initiated more than ninety summary process cases in his own name or in the name of his sole proprietorship, in each [Read More...]

May 22, 2018

Whispers abound that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will issue revised guidelines this year around emotional support animals, giving landlords and property managers more authority to verify that a tenant’s need for such an animal is legitimate.   Currently, owners and tenants can apply for and receive medical certifications for emotional support animals online without having to provide detailed proof of their need. One such website is TheDogtor.net, which is run by a [Read More...]

May 22, 2018

Condominium insurance is a complicated topic that is a consistent source of headaches and worry for property managers and board members. If I could give only one piece of advice it would be to work with a reputable agent who specializes in condo insurance.  In this area of insurance, it is simply not enough to have some familiarity with condo insurance.  You need an expert who knows all of the ins and outs, all of [Read More...]

May 17, 2018

EMPLOYMENT TRAIN STILL ROLLING The unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent in April, reaching its lowest level in nearly two decades, as the labor market notched its 91st consecutive month of gains. Employers added 164,000 workers to their payrolls, keeping the hiring train moving, though more slowly than expected; analysts had predicted a gain of 193,000 positions. Earnings remained sluggish, increasing by only 4 cents per hour and averaging a 2.6 percent annual rate, barely [Read More...]

May 16, 2018

The Massachusetts Equal Pay Act, as amended (“MEPA”), takes effect on July 1, 2018, and it is aimed at providing greater fairness and equity within the workplace, and it will apply to all employers in Massachusetts (apart from federal employers) regardless of size. MEPA applies equally to condominium association employers with only a few onsite employees, as well as to property management companies based both in-state and outside of Massachusetts. To that end, employers based outside [Read More...]

April 30, 2018

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, which had seemed on track to hit a new post-2004 high in mid-March, slipped in the final survey at month’s end, reflecting the increasing concern of higher-income households about the threat of a trade war, and their uncertainty about the impact of Trump administration economic policies. Still, the index remained near its recovery peak, bolstered by the increasing confidence of households in the lower third of [Read More...]

April 23, 2018

By Stephen Marcus Depending on their size, condominium associations may receive a variety of professional services – from managers, security guards, lifeguards, maintenance workers and administrative assistants, among other personnel. Boards and owners often question the cost and quality of these services, but few, if any, ever wonder, “Whose employees are they?” If you haven’t asked that question, you should, because some of the rules governing employee-employer relationships have changed, and the changes are creating [Read More...]

April 15, 2018

FED ON TRACK Presiding over the first Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting of his tenure as Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell announced a widely anticipated one-quarter percent increase in the Fed’s benchmark Federal Funds rate – the sixth the Fed’s policy-making committee has approved during this ongoing economic recovery. Also in line with predictions, Powell indicated that the Fed remains on track for additional rate hikes this year. But analysts did not know quite [Read More...]

April 14, 2018

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

April 10, 2018

A complete understanding of your condominium’s Declaration of Trust, Master Deed, By-Laws, Amendments, and other governing documents is extremely important when living in a condominium. A review of these documents will dictate the size and boundaries of the condominium’s units among other things.  Recently, a client came to MEEB because his unit was being damaged by a water leak coming from a roof deck owned, through an easement, by another unit owner. When the case [Read More...]

April 10, 2018

Employers are tasked daily with making decisions regarding employee discipline and/or termination. When faced with these decisions, employers should appreciate that their actions may ultimately be reviewed by third parties, including but not limited to arbitrators, judges and/or juries, all of whom will be left to decide whether the employee whom was disciplined and/or terminated was treated fairly. While there is no recognized cause of action in Massachusetts for “wrongful termination,” or “unjust dismissal,” claims [Read More...]

April 10, 2018

Recently, the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the First Circuit (which includes Puerto Rico) decided that a condominium association is a “person” eligible to file bankruptcy. While the court did not permit the bankruptcy to go forward due to fraud, the decision is significant for condominium associations that are saddled with debt. The court’s reasoning follows: “[W]e conclude the bankruptcy court committed legal error when it applied a narrow, exclusive interpretation of the term ‘person’ set [Read More...]

April 2, 2018

UNEXPECTED RELIEF Given the widespread expectations for draconian cuts in financing for federal housing programs, the stop-gap $1.3 trillion funding bill Congress approved in March contained an unanticipated but welcome surprise: a $4.7 billion increase in funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), instead of the $6 billion reduction President Trump had sought. The $52.7 billion budget approved for the agency included significant increases to programs Mr. Trump had proposed cutting or [Read More...]

March 27, 2018

By Stephen Marcus When we talk about insurance, which we do frequently, we talk about its complexities, and there is no question that insurance decisions are complicated, confusing and often intimidating for condo boards. But it isn’t the complexity of insurance that creates the biggest risks for board members and the association’s they govern; it’s the type of coverage and the amount: Many boards don’t buy the kind of insurance they need or enough of [Read More...]

March 19, 2018

LABOR STRENGTH The big economic news for this month is the much stronger than expected employment report; the big question is, why in the face of strong labor market, consumer spending (reflected in retail sales) has been trending steadily downward. Employers added 313,000 jobs in February, representing the largest monthly increase in nearly two years. Positive labor reports and increasing confidence in the economic outlook lured more than 800,000 workers off the sidelines, holding the [Read More...]

March 5, 2018

It is often the case that the law can change as frequently as the weather in New England. Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), a federal labor law enforcement agency that is charged with enforcing the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), demonstrated this by vacating a decision on joint employer liability that it had made only in December. The change in decision means that it is important for both associations and management companies to [Read More...]

March 5, 2018

Can we learn anything about serving on a condo board from the movie The Godfather? You wouldn’t think so, but as it turns out, there is some sage advice to be found in Mario Puzo’s classic story. Let’s take a look at some memorable quotes and what they say about serving on a condo board. Never tell anybody outside the family what you’re thinking again. – Don Corleone   Board decisions should stay between board [Read More...]

March 5, 2018

INTRODUCTION Every day it seems as though an ever increasing number of property owners are seeking to earn extra income by offering their properties for short-term/transient purposes, and the increased popularity of platforms such as AirBnB, VRBO, and HomeAway have made it easier than ever for an property owner to connect with anyone who seeks a place to stay for a night or for several. While this commercial enterprise may seem like a quick and [Read More...]

March 1, 2018

HOUSING CRISIS Sounding an alarm that usually comes from housing advocacy groups, a multifamily developer is warning of an impending crisis in the rental housing market – the result of a mismatch between supply and demand. His message: Although the luxury market is overbuilt, or close to it, and the need for affordable housing acute, developers continue to add supply at the high end, because affordable rents can’t cover rising construction costs. “The two-by-four doesn’t [Read More...]

February 27, 2018

By Pamela M. Jonah Imagine this: Susan and Bill, a retired couple in their late 60s, are sitting around the community association’s pool on a warm summer day, chatting with other residents. They have no children of their own and are becoming increasingly agitated by the high-pitched squeals of children who are swimming and splashing in the water. “I think children should be barred from the pool on weekends, so adults can enjoy it,” Bill [Read More...]

February 20, 2018

A number of new condominium related bills came before the NH House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee on January 25, 2018. As a member of CAI-NE’s NH Legislative Action Committee, I appeared with other committee members before the legislative committee to oppose these bills as the majority were very bad for associations and board members.  I am proud of the work our committee did to stop these bills at the outset.  We were able to [Read More...]

February 15, 2018

LEGAL BRIEF TIME LIMITS A New Hampshire Supreme Court decision holding that developers aren’t subject to statutory time limits on phased condominium developments has focused industry attention on what condo developers can do and when they can do it. Addressing a different fact pattern and using a different rationale, the Delaware Supreme Court reached the same conclusion. (Bethany Marina Townhouses v. BMIG, LLC.) The original plans called for 14 buildings in this community, only 11 [Read More...]

February 13, 2018

OR, IF YOU PREFER A SHORTER HEAD: SJC Rejects Developers’ “Poison Pills” By Edmund Allcock The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has ruled that condominium developers can’t unreasonably restrict the ability of owners to file suits against them. The court rejected the “poison pill” provisions developers often use to insulate themselves from liability for construction defects, design flaws and other claims condominium owners might pursue against the developers of their communities. I represented the plaintiffs, [Read More...]

January 31, 2018

TIPPING POINT Housing industry executives have warned that the tax reforms Congress enacted will undercut incentives for home ownership. Researchers at the Urban Institute have drilled down on that theory to determine how the changes—primarily the increase in the standard deduction and caps on deductions for mortgage interest, state and local property taxes) will affect the buy-vs. rent equation (when it is more cost-effective to own than rent) for families in four different income brackets. [Read More...]

January 23, 2018

In a case of first impression, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) in the case of Trustees of the Cambridge Point Condominium Trust vs. Cambridge Point, LLC, has ruled that condominium developers cannot unreasonably restrict the ability of owners to file suits against them. In its Decision, dated January 19, 2018, the Court rejected as violative of public policy, the anti-litigation provisions that developers have been routinely inserting into condominium documents for the last 10-15 [Read More...]