Year: 2019

July 15, 2019

A SURE THING? Within the space of a week, interest rate speculation has veered from a consensus that the Fed would cut rates, to a widely shared belief that they would not, and back to virtual certainty that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Fed’s policy-making arm, will cut rates when it meets at the end of July. Growing concern that the economic recovery is weakening, the strongest argument in favor of a rate [Read More...]

July 3, 2019

By Jennifer Barnett and Dawn McDonald With the passage of the Paid Family Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) in 2018, Massachusetts became one of only six states (plus the District of Columbia) that now require employers to offer paid leave to employees who have serious medical problems or who need time to care for family members with serious medical problems. Benefits for Massachusetts workers will begin to phase in starting in January of 2021, but employers [Read More...]

July 3, 2019

WILL THEY OR WON’T THEY? The ‘they’ is the Federal Reserve and the question is whether the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will lower interest rates when it meets next in late July. The committee voted 9-1 in June to leave rates unchanged, but a post-meeting statement, eliminating previous references to “patience,” signaled a willingness to consider a rate cut, though probably not before next year. The statement also downgraded the committee’s assessment of [Read More...]

June 28, 2019

The Supreme Court on Friday made it easier for property owners to challenge land-use regulations and seek compensation from the government, a ruling that revealed deep divisions between the court’s conservative and liberal camps when it comes to property rights. The Court, in a 5-to-4 decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, sided with a Pennsylvania woman who challenged a requirement by the rural community of Scott Township that she provide public access to a gravesite on [Read More...]

June 28, 2019

Two unit condominiums are notoriously difficult to deal with when it comes to litigation and administration.  However, if the owners can actually work collaboratively and utilize the right professionals, success can be had.  This case presented one of those examples. MEEB represented a 2 unit Condominium Trust (and its two unit owners) in a lawsuit against a developer, general contractor, architect and structural engineer in a case involving alleged common area defects.  The two unit [Read More...]

June 28, 2019

WHEN MANAGERS RECEIVE A LETTER THREATENING A WRONGFUL ACTION BY BOARD  TIPS: Some policies consider a claim a letter stating wrongdoing e.g. breach of fiduciary duty, failure to repair a leaking roof. Some policies do not consider a claim having occurred until a suit is filed or a claim filed with a regulatory body. When a manager receives a letter threatening suit or stating board or manager did something wrong, you should send letter and [Read More...]

June 27, 2019

Dillon is an associate in the firm’s Condominium Practice Group. He joined the firm in 2019 and focuses his practice on representing condominium associations. Prior to joining the firm, he worked as Corporate Counsel for Princeton Properties, a large property management company that develops, acquires, and manages apartment communities throughout New England. As Corporate Counsel, Dillon’s practice focused primarily on land use/development as well as landlord tenant matters. Dillon’s experience handling a wide range of [Read More...]

June 19, 2019

CONDO COOLING Boston’s sizzling condominium market is cooling off. Sales reported for April were 4 percent below the total for the same month last year, the Greater Boston Association of Realtors reported, while the number of units listed for sale increased by 15.3 percent compared with the prior month – the 18th consecutive monthly increase. Separately, the Warren Group reported that condo sales increased by 1.3 percent statewide, but the median price recorded its third [Read More...]

May 29, 2019

STILL DISAPPOINTING Housing industry analysts continue to insist that the spring housing market will strengthen, but as spring gives way to summer, home sales continue to disappoint. Existing home sales fell again in April, slipping slightly below the March total and falling 4.4 percent below the same month a year ago ─ the 14th consecutive year-over-year decline. Economists were predicting that lower mortgage rates and a strong labor market would produce significantly better results. Lawrence [Read More...]

May 23, 2019

By Stephen Marcus You are the president of a condominium board and you don’t appreciate getting a call from a fellow board-member Sunday at midnight. The reason for the call is even less welcome. The board member has lost a laptop containing every essential piece of association related information it would be possible for anyone to have. Names, addresses, account information and credit card numbers for association residents, passcodes for association bank accounts, budget details [Read More...]

May 16, 2019

PARTIAL BAN A federal district judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of two components of a Boston ordinance regulating short-term rentals in the city. The ordinance, approved by the City Council last year, would have required on-line platforms to ensure that listed properties comply with registration rules and to report detailed information about their listings. Airbnb challenged the ordinance, contending that it illegally required listing companies to disclose proprietary business information and imposed unreasonable monitoring requirements [Read More...]

May 13, 2019

When I started working a MEEB in October of 2009, I realized very quickly that this was a different work environment than I was used to previously.  What became clear to me was that providing unparalleled service to the client was the first and foremost priority.  There was an unmistakable passion about the work we do and being a big part of the community association world in New England.  Attorneys worked late, were uncommonly responsive [Read More...]

May 13, 2019

Is there anything more annoying than realizing that your vehicle registration or inspection sticker has expired or is about to expire?  I let my registration lapse once when I was on summer vacation with my family.  On our first day of vacation, my wife let me sleep in.  She got up early and took our young children to buy muffins or bagels for breakfast.  On her way back, she got pulled over by the police [Read More...]

April 29, 2019

INCONSISTENT If you’re looking for consistency, you won’t find it in the March housing market reports. After posting the strongest performance in almost four years in February, existing home sales reversed direction in March with a 5.4 percent year-over year decline. The February jump had provided hope that home sales might be regaining their footing after back-to-back declines in December and January; the March swoon dented those hopes, but new home sales restored them, posting [Read More...]

April 22, 2019

By Richard Brooks Condo owners usually understand that they give up some of the rights enjoyed by single-family homeowners. The right to paint their front door any color they choose, to play their music at any decibel level they choose, and even to smoke in their residences, for example, all may be prohibited by condo associations rules or covenants. But condo owners pay property taxes, just like single-family homeowners, and they expect to receive the [Read More...]

April 19, 2019

Electronic voting could be the cure for owner apathy in community associations and is a new technology managers should be exploring for their associations.  E-voting allows owners to cast a vote for elections, amendments, budgets and more all from the convenience of one’s own computer or smart phone.  While not commonly utilized at this moment, e-voting is clearly on the rise given technological advancement and the proliferation of the internet in all our lives (think [Read More...]

April 18, 2019

In Property Acquisition Group, LLC v. Ivester, 17-P-1518 (April 18, 2019), the Massachusetts Appeals Court has provided what appears to be another avenue for property owners to challenge non-judicial foreclosure sales. In 2003, the Ivesters purchased a single-family home located on 4.57 acres of land in Lynnfield, MA for $399,000.  In 2013, the owners admittedly defaulted on a $302,000 mortgage they obtained in 2006.  Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) was the assignee of the [Read More...]

April 17, 2019

RENT CONTROL REDUX Rent control has returned ─as part of the housing policy discussion, if not, as yet, a component of housing policy. Boston City Councilor Althea Garrison has introduced a home rule measure that would restore rent control in the city – two decades after a voter referendum abolished the policy statewide. A recent study cited by the Boston Globe ranked Boston rents the fourth highest in the country, averaging $2,400 for a one-bedroom [Read More...]

March 29, 2019

RATE SURPRISE Surprising just about everyone, the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged in March and, more surprising still, indicated that policy makers aren’t planning any rate hikes for the remainder of this year, with only one increase likely in 2020. Opting to extend the “patience” that kept rates unchanged in January, the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted unanimously to alter a policy course that had been pointing firmly in the direction of [Read More...]

March 27, 2019

By Mark Einhorn Reading the real estate section of the New York Times recently, I was struck by the number of ads featuring condominiums for sale. There would be nothing remarkable about this in the Boston Globe, but condominiums historically have been relatively rare in New York, where cooperatives have long been the primary form of common interest ownership. In Massachusetts (and in New England generally), it is cooperatives that are the exception. There are [Read More...]

March 19, 2019

THE BATTLE CONTINUES The Jersey Shore is the latest battleground in the ongoing conflict between government officials and the short-term vacation rental industry represented by Airbnb. An 11.6 percent tax on these rentals that took effect in October of last year has provoked an outcry from New Jersey homeowners who say they are having trouble finding renters because of the higher rents they must charge to cover the tax. Critics say the tax will be [Read More...]

March 4, 2019

234 Beacon Street Condominium Trust (association) governed the 234 Beacon Street Condominium in Boston, Massachusetts.  Ronen Adato owned a unit in the condominium. The nine-unit residential structure was separated from a trash room by a passageway.  Attached to the trash room was a garage containing six bays for cars and adjacent storage areas.  The parking bays were enclosed by doors.  There was no usable floor space in the garage that was not covered by the [Read More...]

March 4, 2019

HOMELESSNESS PERSISTS Although efforts to reduce homelessness have had some success over the past two decades, they have fallen well short of eliminating the problem. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reports that 552,800 Americans experienced homelessness last year, an increase of 0.3 percent over the previous year’s total. This is the second consecutive year the numbers have trended upward, reversing gains that have reduced homelessness overall by 13 percent since 2010. The [Read More...]

February 21, 2019

By Matthew Gaines and William Thompson A newly enacted state law restricting the authority of condo associations to regulate the installation of electric car charging stations will apply only to condominiums located in Boston. But the implications extend well beyond Boston’s city limits. The reason: More consumers are buying electric cars. They purchased more than 360,000 of those vehicles in the U.S. last year – an 81 percent increase over 2017, which topped the previous [Read More...]

February 13, 2019

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE – AND A FED POLICY “Patience” was the byword for the Federal Reserve (Fed) in January, driving a unanimous decision by the policy-making Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to stand pat on interest rates for now, and producing a decidedly less hawkish tone in the statement released after the committee’s meeting. “In light of global economic and financial developments and muted inflation pressures, the Committee will be patient as it determines [Read More...]

February 5, 2019

  By Gary M. Daddario If you look at a list of states that have a condominium superlien, you will find New Hampshire among them. But you can’t judge a book by its cover – and you can’t judge a statute by its name. All superliens are not equal. And the New Hampshire superlien includes some differences of which New Hampshire associations should be aware. It is important for boards and managers to understand the [Read More...]

February 4, 2019

THEY’RE BACK! Unconventional loans are back. Offered to borrowers who can’t document their income through traditional means, because they are self- employed, for example, the loans were wildly popular during the ‘anything goes’ days preceding the 2007-2009 financial meltdown, when they were known as low-doc, no-doc or (more disparagingly) “liar loans.” A slowing home sales and rising interest rates are renewing their popularity today, as lenders seek to gain or preserve market share in a [Read More...]

January 15, 2019

As one of the final acts of the 2017/2018 Massachusetts legislation session, the House and Senate passed and the Governor signed a City of Boston Home Rule Petition relative to electric vehicle charging stations at condominiums and other community associations in Boston. It is important to note that this bill only pertains to the City of Boston, and does not affect any other cities or towns in Massachusetts. Pursuant to the new Boston ordinance a [Read More...]

January 15, 2019

SHUTDOWN PAINS Some industry executives say the prolonged government shutdown isn’t hurting the housing market – yet. But it’s not helping either. Three-quarters of the approximately 2,200 real estate brokers responding to a National Association of Realtors survey said the shutdown has had no significant impact on current housing transactions. Only 11 percent said their clients have experienced closing delays related to the shutdown, while another 11 percent said the shutdown has affected the purchase [Read More...]

January 11, 2019

Dawn is a partner in the Litigation Department. She has spent the past seventeen years as a successful trial attorney and then a partner, as well as manager, of the litigation department of a well-established law firm in Western Massachusetts. She is an accomplished trial lawyer and has extensive experience handling complex multi-million dollar commercial litigation for individuals, corporations, small business owners and financial institutions in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. In addition, she has focused [Read More...]