Category: Newsletter

One of the most difficult duties of serving as a condominium board member is making and enforcing rules affecting the condominium common areas. Add to that difficulty the complexity of regulating speech in the common areas and the difficulty can seem insurmountable.  A recent decision by the Superior Court for the County of Hampshire seemingly provides clarity on the analysis for condominium boards, but a closer reading of the facts of the case may make [Read More...]

The pandemic has fueled the need for communication.  Pandemic communication has been innovative.  Zoom meetings have become the preferred means of communication.  They are so much better than conference calls.  Conference calls can be disruptive and downright annoying.  Half the time you don’t know who is speaking and people tend to speak over one another.  Zoom eliminates that.  Zoom also allows lawyers and their clients and consultants to work through and review documents in real [Read More...]

One issue that many Associations face is underfunded reserve accounts.   Often, after years of underfunding, current Boards are faced with the difficult problem of increasing monthly fees to catch up and/or balancing the reality of insufficient reserves with assessments.   However, there is usually a hesitation to increase common expenses for the purpose of funding a reserve account, as reserve funds are not viewed as a necessary expense.   While it is prudent to have sufficient funds [Read More...]

Requests for emotional service animals and other reasonable accommodations have proliferated over the past several years.  Boards are faced with a resident’s request for an alteration to a rule knowing the unwarranted denial could result in significant liability under the Fair Housing Act.  The Court in the recent case of Phillips v. Acacia on the Green Condominium (Ohio) found that two residents were not entitled to the requested reasonable accommodations because the requested accommodations were [Read More...]

As the first Covid-19 inoculations to the first round of recipients begins, many employers who are battling to stay open, stay functioning, and keep from going out of business are asking themselves if they can require their employees to get Covid-19 inoculation.  The short answer is: YES.  However, as with most things related to employment law, the answer is actually more complicated than a simple yes or no, and requires a deeper analysis by employers. [Read More...]

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 state lockdown orders and avoiding contagion risks ─ were clear, the authority for them was often lacking. The governing documents of [Read More...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

Community Associations Institute (CAI) hosted the 2020 Community Association Law Seminar, Jan 15-18 at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The Law Seminar is a one-of-a-kind gathering of attorneys, insurance professionals, community association managers, and other industry leaders, exploring emerging trends and legislative issues important to the practice of community association law. During the seminar, the College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL) introduced Attorney Edmund Allcock, a partner at Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks, [Read More...]

There has been an increase in U.S. Coronavirus cases, including eight deaths in Washington state, a case and death has been reported in New York and a case has been confirmed in Rhode Island. That has led to a number of questions from condominium boards to the effect of:  What should we do to protect the condominium and its members? What is our responsibility for the clubhouse, pool, workout area, playground, plumbing, HVAC system?” Condominium [Read More...]

We all know there is no such thing as a free lunch. But a new Small Business Administration (SBA) emergency loan program comes close, and it could be a financial lifesaver for many businesses, including condominium association management companies. Part of the massive pandemic relief legislation enacted recently by Congress, the SBA Paycheck Protection Program, as the title suggests, is designed to help small businesses maintain their operations and sustain their payrolls until the pandemic [Read More...]

Dear Clients: COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our lives and has certainly already had a significant financial impact to all.   Unfortunately, this past week the Massachusetts Attorney General issued Regulations [click here] that directly impact the collection of past due common expenses. The purpose for the Regulations was to protect consumers from certain debt collection activity.  However, in doing so, the Regulations effectively prohibit  associations, property managers and the attorneys from initiating, filing or threatening [Read More...]

What About Property Management When It Comes to Business Closures? Many people are concerned about whether or not property managers are classified as “essential” services during this crisis.  MEEB opines that this is the case.  CAI New England has formally adopted this position as well.  By way of update, CAI National has also adopted this position.  Moreover, the language used to describe “essential” services in the Federal orders is, in some cases, the same language [Read More...]

MEEB represents a condominium in Woburn, Massachusetts that formed a “Compassionate Care Committee”.  It is a complex of 147 units, comprised mostly of residents over 65.  33% of them are over 80.  This community has been all over the issue since the virus broke.  They have stepped up the use of in-house and contractor help to regularly disinfect common areas and formed a committee to assist those that have confirmed or presumptive cases and are [Read More...]

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