Category: Newsletter

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

At a recent professional networking event, the subject of mentors was a topic of conversation. That got me thinking about my own mentors and how important a part they have played at different stages in my life. The classic definition of a mentor is someone who advises, guides, and counsels you in your professional development. I believe mentors can be much more than that in both our professional and personal lives, and they are essential [Read More...]

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...]

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...]

Remember when George W. Bush described his politics as “compassionate conservatism”? At first it is a phrase that seems self-contradictory but then at a second glance it starts making some sense. Well when it comes to the collection of unpaid condominium assessments, my ethos is “sensible aggression”. In Massachusetts, the priority lien is the ultimate hammer and provides all the leverage an association needs to collect up to six months of regular monthly fees.  At [Read More...]

What is better than a dinner reservation? The condominium board members have been looking forward to that meal all week.  It’s a new place, they have been dying to try it.  Suddenly, they get sued.  Now they go from dinner reservations to insurance reservations.  Their appetite is lost. Your Condominium gets sued. Sorry but it happens.  What is the first thing you should do?  You guessed it, contact your lawyer, sadly he has an appetite [Read More...]

There’s an old adage that goes, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Recently, the Massachusetts Appeals Court issued a decision that could be said to stand for a somewhat contrary proposition: “if it’s broke, you can’t fix it” – at least as to restrictive covenants of common interest communities that are not condominiums created under the provisions of Chapter 183A of the Massachusetts General Laws. In Berger v. 2 Wyndcliff (2017), the Court concluded [Read More...]

The MEEB litigation department recently obtained a long awaited victory for a Condominium Board in a maintenance dispute that first originated over a decade ago. The disagreement between the Board and a Unit Owner centered around a maintenance provision of the Condominium’s governing documents that discussed the duty to repair and replace a valuable set of luxury balcony doors.  One Unit Owner in particular was alleging serious issues with the set of balcony doors in [Read More...]

The ability to collect unpaid condominium fees was dealt a severe blow by a recent decision of the NH Supreme Court in the case of New Hampshire Housing Authority vs. Pinewood Estates Condominium Association.  The Court ruled that a foreclosure sale buyer was not responsible for the satisfaction of a Termination of Services lien related to pre-foreclosure sale debt owed by the foreclosed former owner. NHHA acquired the unit after it foreclosed on the owner, [Read More...]

Ready or not, winter is quickly approaching and far too often, condominium associations find themselves unprepared for Mother Nature’s wrath. Accordingly, it is essential for condominium associations to plan for the winter ahead, even as the last of our summer tans are still fading. First, associations should ensure that the condominium’s insurance coverage is up to date and is consistent with the requirements set forth in the condominium’s declaration of by-laws. It is also recommended [Read More...]

Condominium fair housing and discrimination claims continue to be a source of horror for condominiums.  As illustrated by the four cases below, even the federal government can be scary.  Condominium Boards need to think carefully and consult with counsel as appropriate to ensure that what they think is a treat, does not turn out to be a trick.   On July 15, 2016, the Division filed a Statement of Interest in Arnal v. Aspen View Condo. [Read More...]

Dressed in holiday style In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas Children laughing, people passing Meeting smile after smile… Silver Bells, Nat King Cole Its holiday season and the sidewalks will soon be busy with shoppers galore.  Apparently, city sidewalks and silver bells are on the minds of the Massachusetts Appeals Court as well. On November 18, 2016, the Massachusetts Appeals Court decided in a split (2-1) decision that a private landowner abutting a [Read More...]

The idea that all are equal before the law has been a cornerstone of democratic societies for the last 2,400 years. There are situations, however, where one side appears to have an advantage – for example, a developer whose condominium documents appear to limit the ability of a condominium association to sue.  Even then, however, courts have – perhaps unwittingly – found ways to uphold that basic principle of equality by drawing a distinction between [Read More...]

© 2018 Marcus Errico Emmer Brooks PC