Category: Newsletter

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

Insurance has become an aspect of daily life. Medical and health insurance, automobile insurance, homeowners insurance…do any of us go very long without dealing with one or more of these?  In the realm of condominiums and homeowner associations, there are multiple and particular forms of additional insurance to be considered.  These policies form a necessary aspect of the association’s overall security (financial and physical).  General liability and property insurance must be carried by the association [Read More...]

Many times smaller associations allow for each Unit Owner to be a Trustee and when the number of owners/trustees is two or four invariably there will be instances where the trustees’ votes are split and the question becomes what happens then? Typically in these situations the condominium’s governing documents (Master Deed, Declaration of Trust, Bylaws, etc.) will require either a unanimous vote (say 2-0) or a majority vote (3-1) for the trustees to act, which [Read More...]

I am often asked what a board can do about a unit owner whose bad behavior is constantly disrupting the community. Whether it is a unit owner who regularly yells at his neighbors, or one who, after a board issues him a violation notice for an infraction, starts to retaliate against some or all of the board members. This type of behavior causes legitimate fear in the community and the board is often expected to [Read More...]

Last week MEEB Attorneys Edmund A. Allcock and Keshav Jha, representing three Boston condominium associations located across the street from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, filed a lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court to compel the City of Boston to enforce its noise ordinance. The parties are awaiting a decision from the Court on a Motion for Preliminary Injunction. As reported in the Boston Globe, the City of Boston noise ordinance, which prohibits all noise above 70 decibels, [Read More...]

One of the Board’s important duties is the enactment and enforcement of Rules and Regulations for the benefit of the community. Almost all condominium association’s governing documents, the Master Deed, Declaration of Trust and/or By-Laws give the Board the power to enact Rules and Regulations primarily to govern what may or may not happen in the common areas, without the need for Unit Owner consent/vote. With such a broad power some members of the Board [Read More...]

It’s that time of the year when condo boards are preparing their annual budgets ahead of the upcoming annual meeting. Since an owner vote is required to amend your governing documents, having a large amount of the electorate in one place for the annual meeting is the perfect opportunity to pass an amendment. In NH, if your condo’s docs do not provide for the ability to collect rent from delinquent owners’ tenants or for the [Read More...]

The pervasive use of social media in our day-to-day lives is undeniable. It is unsurprising then, that employers, both large and small, are using social media for hiring, disciplinary and termination decisions. However, many employers do not realize that there are inherent risks in doing so. Nearly all employers know that it is unlawful to discriminate against a prospective job applicant based on their membership in a protected class. However, social media accounts typically include [Read More...]

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes and common expenses”. Benjamin Franklin – 1789. Okay, not the exact quote. However, if Franklin was alive today and lived in a condominium, his quote would likely have included common expenses. Common expenses are frequently compared to municipal taxes. This makes sense, since both are established by an annual budget and assessed to owners based on individual property values or the percentage [Read More...]

On August 10, 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law the Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act (the Act), which overhauls existing noncompetition case law and heavily restricts an employer’s ability to limit an employee’s competitive activities. This should be of concern to management companies and condominium associations with employees where employment movement and client solicitation is an issue. The Act takes effect on October 1, 2018 and limits the ability of private employers to enter [Read More...]

Flying a drone over neighboring property by itself does not qualify as harassment under state law and a judge should not have stepped in between a father and son feuding over development on adjacent parcels on the South Shore, an appellate court ruled on July 11, 2018. The names of the father and son whose “lamentable history of litigation” sparked the ruling by the Massachusetts Appeals Court was not disclosed in the decision. Instead, they [Read More...]

In most cases the board of an association has the right to enact reasonable rules and regulations, regulating activity and the placement of objects in the common areas of the condominium. I say in “most cases,” because we have learned over time that there is an area where the board may want to avoid regulating and tread lightly in its application of rules, that being in the prohibition of the display of religious items and [Read More...]

MEEB has repeatedly advised condominium associations to adopt amendments barring Level 3 sex offenders from being able to live within a condominium. There is case law out of New Jersey upholding a prohibition of Level 3 sex offenders. MEEB believes that such a prohibition would be upheld in Massachusetts, as Level 3 sex offenders are not a protected class and that the protection of women and children in condominiums is a more legitimate concern. While [Read More...]

After months of debate, the Boston City Council on Wednesday passed rules that are designed to sharply rein in Boston’s fast-growing short-term rental business and help ease the tight housing market. The rules, which passed on an 11-to-2 vote, are among the most stringent efforts in the nation to regulate the burgeoning industry. The rules would bar investors and tenants from renting their homes through popular websites such as Airbnb, while allowing homeowners and owner-occupants [Read More...]

The ever-changing NH Condo Statute has undergone yet another round of tweaks in the most recent legislative session.  The new statutory provisions discussed below will go into effect as of August 7, 2018. Ballots New paragraph IV of Section 39-a now requires that ballots cast in an association vote—meaning a vote of owners, not of the Board—be counted using a tally sheet.  The new paragraph does not define “tally sheet”, so any piece of paper [Read More...]

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...]

© 2019 Marcus Errico Emmer Brooks PC