Category: Newsletter

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...]

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...]

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...]

Condominium homeowners’ associations throughout Massachusetts have struggled with attendance and participation at unit owner meeting, and to some extent at board meetings as well.  The selection of an arbitrary place and time for a community of homeowners to convene for their annual meeting, each with conflicting schedules, seems almost archaic in the advent of digital communication technologies such a Skype, Go-To Meeting, and Facetime.  The Massachusetts Condominium Act, M.G.L. c. 183A, does not address the [Read More...]

This past weekend many areas saw their first significant snow fall this season.  If Associations have not done so already,  it is not too late to adopt snow and ice policies which clearly (and correctly) establish the duty and responsibility for snow and ice treatment between those that unit owners are responsible for, those that the association is responsible for, as well as those gray areas in between. In Massachusetts, courts now evaluate liability for [Read More...]

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