Category: Newsletter

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...]

As President of CAI’s New England Chapter in 2020 (and President of the National College of Community Association Lawyers in 2020), I wanted to send a quick note out to all CAI members, volunteers and business partners to thank them for their effort and service during the pandemic.  I also want to encourage those of you who are not CAI members to join.  It is a tremendous organization and since the onset of the pandemic [Read More...]

Not many of us saw the Pandemic coming.  Very few of us thought the world would shut down in response.  The deaths and ensuing financial disaster are now upon us.  We still have months more of the virus and possibly years to pull ourselves out of the ensuing economic disaster.  It is quite difficult to predict when the virus will go away or if it will reappear.  Many experts predict a reoccurrence of the virus [Read More...]

The Attorney General Regulation instituted on March 24, 2020 that imposed a 90 day moratorium on debt collections has been declared unconstitutional by the District Court sitting in Massachusetts and Associations may now proceed in the ordinary course to recover unpaid common expenses.  As a result of this decision,  there are no longer restrictions banning threats of legal action in communications with Owners.  Associations and their managing agents may now inform Owners that if their [Read More...]

Cambridge, Peabody and Middleton, Massachusetts are mandating that individuals in multi-family residences including condominiums must practice social distancing in all common areas and where the same is not practicable or possible, to wear masks.  For the Peabody and Cambridge Ordinances [click here].  The Cambridge and Peabody ordinances allow for the municipality to fine non-complaint individuals $300 and $1,000 per occurrence, respectively.  Additional Cities and Towns in Massachusetts are expected to follow. Some condominiums have questioned [Read More...]

I recently came across this COVID-19 emergency management operation plan for a condominium located in Downtown Boston.  I have to say that I was so impressed by the Plan that I asked the manager if she would allow me to share it as a model.  While this plan is extensive due to the nature of the Property, including the inclusion of on-site concierge services, I think it is a great model for all properties.  I [Read More...]

Come Zoom with MEEB!  Condos need to amend their documents to lawfully and legally permit remote board meetings, electronic elections and even remote unit owner meetings during the pandemic and beyond.  To help Condos roll with the changes, MEEB will pay one year’s free subscription for Zoom with a condo amendment, (a $180.00 value), which will be credited against the cost of the amendment. MEEB’s Preferred Remote Document Amendment gives the Board the discretion to [Read More...]

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