Category: Newsletter

Now more than a month in, we continue to adjust to the new COVID-19 world in which we live.  With time passing and temperatures warming, many associations are focusing their questions on the future.  This update is meant to provide information which may be used for guidance in dealing with some of the issues ahead. Governors Baker, Sununu and Raimondo have closed schools through the end of this academic year in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and [Read More...]

On Monday April 20, 2020, Governor Baker signed into law House Bill H4647, which places an immediate moratorium on Massachusetts evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. The Moratorium will expire 120 days after the date it was enacted (i.e. August 20, 2020) or 45 days after the Governor’s State of Emergency has been lifted, whichever is sooner. Non-Essential Evictions: The Eviction Moratorium prohibits Landlords from pursuing any “Non-Essential Evictions.” According to the [Read More...]

Condominium owners must pay their common area fees. This is not a stop-the-presses revelation.  It is a statement of principle, embodied in governing documents and affirmed by countless court decisions over the past 25 years. But the coronavirus pandemic, which has tested so many assumptions, is also challenging this one. As statewide and local shelter-in-place orders have shuttered businesses, unemployment rates have soared, reaching near-Depression-era levels. More than 73 million Americans – about 25 percent [Read More...]

With the passage of H.4688 by the Legislature, Massachusetts has joined the long list of states which have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by authorizing the use of remote Notaries.  It is expected that Governor Baker will sign this bill immediately.  Social distancing can now be maintained when legal documents are to be signed or executed as the term is used when signing must be done in the presence of a Notary. H.4688 permits the [Read More...]

Categories of Claims The current public health emergency will likely present numerous issues regarding insurance coverage. In addition to business interruption claims, claims will arise with vendors under contracts, property damage claims for disinfectant/cleaning as well as third party liability claims alleging negligent acts or failures to act in meeting the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic.   In each instance, condominium associations seeking to protect their interests under various categories of insurance coverage will need to [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...]

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...]

In order to help struggling Rhode Island Businesses, the Rhode Island Superior Court has implemented a new receivership program (kind of like a bankruptcy reorganization without the stigma) to protect businesses from creditors during the COVID-19 crisis.  I mention this program for two reasons.  Because it is something business that can’t get SBA or PPP loans might want to take advantage of.  Secondly, other organizations that may be creditors or in business with some companies [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...]

As of this writing, both Massachusetts and New Hampshire now operate under orders from their respective governors for all non-essential businesses to be closed to the public and for work to occur on a remote or modified basis (e.g. restaurants serving take-out only).  On March 23rd, Governor Baker issued this order for Massachusetts effective at noon on March 24th until noon on April 7th (unless extended).  On March 26th, Governor Sununu issued a similar order [Read More...]

WHAT ABOUT URGENT BUSINESS IF MEETINGS ARE TO BE AVOIDED? Some associations may have an urgent need to conduct particular business during the COVID-19 outbreak, perhaps even in response to the crisis.  Unfortunately, in the upcoming days and weeks, the governing boards of community associations will likely find it to be more and more difficult to meet in person to conduct association business.  The governing boards of many community associations, and in particular the boards [Read More...]

DEALING WITH ASSOCIATION OPERATIONS DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS During this time of virus-related crisis, many boards and property managers are facing mounting questions and concerns regarding the day-to-day operations of their associations.  As indicated in our recent email bulletin, MEEB remains operational during this crisis and is committed to the continuing provision of legal services of the highest caliber.  This note is intended to assist with some of the most common questions relating to association [Read More...]

The first legal case ever referred to me involved a steak and tuna sub.  I don’t remember the first case I ever took or generated on my own.  Just the first case I never took. The year was 1995.  I was a young lawyer working in a small law office in Boston.  My brother was at his second go around at Bryant College, which mostly involved playing for their golf team and shenanigans. So one [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...]

On June 28, 2018, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law, “An Act relative to minimum wage, paid family medical leave and the sales tax holiday,” or as it is otherwise known “the Grand Bargain Bill,” which established a permanent sale tax holiday in Massachusets, is intended to increase the minimum wage to be paid to Massachusetts employees over the next five (5) years, to fifteen dollars ($15.00) per hour, and through which, the Paid Family [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...]

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 Attorney Edmund A. Allcock, 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, has not been [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...]

© 2020 Marcus Errico Emmer Brooks PC