Year: 2020

November 24, 2020

Today, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in D’Allessandro v. Lennar Hingham Holdings, LLC has ruled that in a phased condominium, the six (6) year statute of repose begins to run upon substantial completion of each building/improvement.  For the Decision [click here].  The Decision follows an earlier ruling by the Massachusetts Federal Court that the statute of repose in certain “integrated” phased condominiums does not begin to run until the entire project is substantially completed.  Ed Allcock and [Read More...]

November 23, 2020

Holding Proper Confirming Votes Will Protect Past Actions; Amending the Docs Will Prevent Future Problems By Richard Brooks and Patrick Brady With in-person gatherings proscribed by the pandemic for much of this year, many condominium boards have conducted essential business remotely and many associations have canceled their annual meetings, allowing owners to vote electronically to authorize improvements or to elect new board members. While the imperatives for these nontraditional operations ─ complying with local or [Read More...]

November 10, 2020

Among the many suggestions and documents MEEB drafted for our clients when the full impact of COVID-19 was realized was a waiver of liability. When confronted with the demands of the owners, many associations continued to leave their recreation facilities open; however, given all the unknowns associated with this virus and potential legal consequences should someone be able to prove that COVID was contracted from the use of a common facility, we believed (and continue [Read More...]

October 29, 2020

By Dillon G. Brown The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to control it continue to preoccupy condominium association boards and property managers and challenge their ability to respond to rapidly changing governmental guidelines and requirements. Federal regulations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) temporarily prohibiting property owners from evicting residential tenants for non-payment of rent create a new set of challenges. Although the moratorium primarily affects owners of rental properties, some condominium [Read More...]

October 29, 2020

Four days after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced its eviction moratorium, a Virginia landlord filed a suit challenging it. A suit by the New Civil Liberties Alliance, joined by the National Apartment Association, followed shortly after. Since then, the Washington Post reports a “flurry of law suits” from opponents who have launched “an all-out legal war” to block the rules. The arguments in these actions echo those advanced by landlord plaintiffs in an [Read More...]

October 26, 2020

HOUSING DISSONANCE If home sales alone were an indicator of economic health, you might conclude that the economy has rebounded smartly from the pandemic-induced recession and is on a path for steady growth. But the housing market has emerged as more an outlier than an indicator, seemingly breaking free of the downward pull the pandemic continues to exert on other critical gauges of economic health. New and existing home sales both posted 14-year highs in [Read More...]

September 28, 2020

PANDEMIC CLOUDS Although the housing market remains impressively resilient, the pandemic and the uncertainty of efforts to control it continue to cloud the broader economic outlook. “Continued healing in the housing market is a positive for the overall economy,” Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com, told CNBC.com. “But elevated jobless claims raise concerns about how sustainable this housing demand [will be] especially in the face of rising prices.” The August employment report did little to [Read More...]

August 26, 2020

PANDEMIC CLOUDS Economists are becoming increasingly concerned about the pandemic-clouded economic outlook. Recent employment reports suggest their concerns may be justified. More than 1.1 million workers submitted initial unemployment claims for the week ending August 15 – more than analysts had expected. The previous week’s total was also revised upward to 971,000 from the preliminary estimate of 923,000. “This is not a sign of a healthy labor market,” Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust, [Read More...]

August 4, 2020

ECONOMIC RELAPSE Citing evidence that the fledgling economic recovery has stumbled as the coronavirus epidemic has resurged, the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged at its July policy meeting. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell doubled down on the Central Bank’s vow to do all within its power to combat what he termed “the biggest shock to the U.S. economy in living memory.” Noting that the ongoing public health crisis “will weigh heavily” on near-term economic activity [Read More...]

July 25, 2020

By Mark Einhorn Should community associations reopen amenities that were closed during pandemic shutdowns? Most communities that have amenities appear to be grappling with that question. Boards are balancing the legal liability risks, contagion concerns and costs of reopening amenities against the pressure from owners demanding access to them. When we discussed this issue in May, we suggested that associations opting to reopen should closely follow the guidelines issued by state and federal agencies. The [Read More...]

June 30, 2020

RECOVERY SIGNS Housing industry executives who have been looking for signs of recovery got one in June, and a significant one, at that. Pending home sales, which have been trending steadily downward for months, soared, pushing the National Association of Realtors index up by 44.3 percent over the May reading, producing the largest month-over -month increase since the NAR created this index in 2001. The June rebound followed pandemic-induced plunges of 20.8 percent in March [Read More...]

June 9, 2020

Many condominiums and businesses are requiring waivers to use facilities as facilities are re-opened.  The question is are they legally enforceable. The general rule is that waiver language ambiguities will be construed against the business seeking to enforce it.  So waivers should be narrowly and tightly drafted by your lawyer. Second, courts are unlikely to enforce waivers of liability obtained by fraud or duress. States that do not favor waivers of liability may also consider [Read More...]

June 9, 2020

As a boy growing up in Pawtucket, RI, I had a tendency to get on my father’s nerves during the summer.  When he became increasingly frustrated, he would tell me to go jump in a lake.  My brother and I took him literally at his word, and would ride our bikes to what we considered a lake but was actually a reservoir and jump in and get some relief.  Do 10-year-old children do that kind [Read More...]

May 27, 2020

LEGAL FOOTING Companies have been seeking a legal foothold to support their claim that business interruption insurance should cover losses resulting from government-ordered pandemic shutdowns. A recent decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court may have provided one. The case wasn’t precisely on point (it didn’t involve an insurance claim), but it did address a key question: Whether the pandemic has caused property damage – a prerequisite for business interruption coverage under most insurance policies. Insurers [Read More...]

May 19, 2020

While Condominiums are not eligible for the SBA’s forgivable loan Paycheck Protection Program, many condominium industry vendors have applied for and participated in the program.  On May 15, 2020, the SBA issued further clarification on finer points of the program and also released the form for participating borrowers to obtain loan forgiveness.  For the Application [click here]. Notable and Clarified Items Measurement Period – Borrowers may elect an alternative payroll cost measurement period to more [Read More...]

May 19, 2020

Many condominiums in Massachusetts have access to beaches.  On May 18, 2020, Governor Baker re-opened Massachusetts Beaches with restrictions. The highlight of the restrictions is that no groups of more than 10 may congregate at the beach and that people sitting or congregating in an areas of the beach must remain 12 feet apart from other groups.  Also, no sports may be played on the beach.  Masks must be worn where social distancing is not [Read More...]

May 19, 2020

CONSTRUCTION LIMITATIONS On May 18, 2020 Governor Baker laid the groundwork for phased re-opening of Massachusetts.  The soft re-opening starts with construction, manufacturing and places of worship.  The protocols for construction projects in Massachusetts are intense. Construction protocols should be of concern to condominium boards and property managers that are dealing with common area construction projects, as they will need to ensure that contractors that they hire are compliant with the regulations.  Condominium construction projects [Read More...]

May 19, 2020

When the water in the pool is icy cold, the standard advice is, hold your breath, close your eyes, and dive in.  That is not how condominium association boards should approach the reopening of pools and other amenities closed during the pandemic.  Sticking your toe in the water and adjusting gradually to the temperature is a much better idea. Boards will face competing pressures, from owners who will be demanding access to closed amenities as [Read More...]

May 19, 2020

By Mark Einhorn When the water in the pool is icy cold, the standard advice is, hold your breath, close your eyes, and dive in. That is not how condominium association boards should approach the reopening of pools and other amenities closed during the pandemic. Sticking your toe in the water and adjusting gradually to the temperature is a much better idea. Boards will face competing pressures, from owners who will be demanding access to [Read More...]

May 13, 2020

In the final days of the 2017/2018 Massachusetts legislation session, the House and Senate passed a compromise bill, that was subsequently signed by the Governor, to tax and regulate short-term rentals.  The new law takes effect on July 1, 2019. The change in the law expands the state’s hotel and motel tax to include the short-term rental of residential dwellings (which may include condominium units, single family homes, etc.).  The tax applies to all rentals [Read More...]

May 13, 2020

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...]

May 13, 2020

Ed Allcock, partner of MEEB and head of the Litigation Department, was selected by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as a Lawyer of the Year for 2018.  This honor was given to him based on his recent work in the Trustees of the Cambridge Point Condominium Trust v Cambridge Point, LLC, et al, case – a precedent setting case that protects condominium associations from developer inserted “poison pills” that require unit owner votes prior to entering litigation against the developer.  [Read More...]

May 13, 2020

MEEB represented a Condominium Trust in a lawsuit against a developer involving alleged common area defects, financial improprieties, including low balling the budget and lack of adequate developer funded reserves.  The condominium was a phased condominium with different types and styles of condominium units with numerous recreational amenities.  The case and settlement also addressed a future extension of development rights and certain clarifying amendments addressing the different styles of homes and other matters to ease [Read More...]

May 13, 2020

In a development rights dispute between a condominium trust and the original developer’s lender, the condominium trust prevailed, on appeal, in obtaining a ruling that the original developer’s mortgage did not attach to common area.  While such a decision would seem like a given, the Massachusetts Land Court had ruled that the mortgage did in fact attach to undeveloped common area (i.e. common area land upon which units had not yet been built). While the [Read More...]

May 13, 2020

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...]

May 13, 2020

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...]

May 13, 2020

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 insurance policies to your attorney. The attorney will review the policies [Read More...]

May 13, 2020

MEEB partner Matthew Gaines recently testified at the State House before the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government on behalf of Community Associations Institute in opposition to legislation relative to clotheslines in common areas of the condominiums and community associations.  Senate Bill 1169, An Act relative to solar drying of laundry, seeks to prevent condominiums and community associations from prohibiting the use of clotheslines in common areas.  Matt was also interviewed for a story [Read More...]

May 13, 2020

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has recently adopted policies that will approve for financing a single unit in a Condominium. However, to obtain such approval, Associations will be required to fill out a questionnaire – such as the sample below.  This questionnaire establishes that a completed certificate containing a false statement may subject the person completing it to monetary penalties and imprisonment.  Consequently, we strongly advise Board Members and Property Managers to NOT sign these certifications given [Read More...]

May 13, 2020

In response to the increased number of requests for assistance animals in housing accommodations throughout the country, on January 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued guidance clarifying how housing providers, including condominium and community associations, should handle such requests.  The new guidance addresses some of the questions that have arisen in the past few years, including the trend of online certificates and certifications of disabilities. As a result of [Read More...]