Category: General

Anthony is an associate in the firm’s Litigation Department. He joined the firm in 2019 and focuses his practice on real estate, condominium, and contract litigation. Prior to joining the firm, he was part of the Accelerator Practice Clinic at Suffolk University Law School. There he represented indigent tenants in landlord/tenant disputes/eviction cases. He was a Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Fellow and taught Constitutional Law to high school seniors in Dorchester, MA. He also coached the [Read More...]

Once upon a time, Whitman Pond Village Condominium initiated a lien enforcement case against a unit owner that failed to pay her condo fees.  Upon obtaining a default judgment against both the unit owner and her first mortgage holder, the Condo ultimately foreclosed on the unit in order to recoup the unpaid fees as well as the legal fees and costs incurred in the lien enforcement process.  After foreclosure, the Condominium held sale proceeds that [Read More...]

Technology is changing our environment in so many ways, it’s difficult to keep up. This is especially true in the home security business. I’m constantly hearing ads about the newest ways to monitor your home while you are away, or how to sync your surveillance cameras with your phone to watch your pets all day at work. There are obvious advantages to these new systems – I love the idea of making sure no one [Read More...]

The Massachusetts Supreme Court recently issued a decision involving a landlord’s ability to request use and occupancy payments while a tenant lemans in a unit during an eviction proceeding.  The court said: The question presented in this case is whether a judge has authority to issue orders for interim use and occupancy payments during the pendency of a summary process eviction action, and, if so, the circumstances under which it is appropriate to exercise that [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...]

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...]

Last week, the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed a $20 million judgment against Cumberland Farms in connection with a 2010 car crash that involved an elderly man who apparently suffered a stroke, sped through an intersection and crashed into the front of a Cumberland Farms convenience store and gas station located in Chicopee, killing a 43-year old woman who was shopping inside. Although it pertains to an accident at a commercial property open to the general [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...]

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A complete understanding of your condominium’s Declaration of Trust, Master Deed, By-Laws, Amendments, and other governing documents is extremely important when living in a condominium. A review of these documents will dictate the size and boundaries of the condominium’s units among other things.  Recently, a client came to MEEB because his unit was being damaged by a water leak coming from a roof deck owned, through an easement, by another unit owner. When the case [Read More...]

Employers are tasked daily with making decisions regarding employee discipline and/or termination. When faced with these decisions, employers should appreciate that their actions may ultimately be reviewed by third parties, including but not limited to arbitrators, judges and/or juries, all of whom will be left to decide whether the employee whom was disciplined and/or terminated was treated fairly. While there is no recognized cause of action in Massachusetts for “wrongful termination,” or “unjust dismissal,” claims [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...]

  Condominium insurance is complicated. This is hardly a stop-the-presses revelation. Board members and association managers who have shopped for insurance policies or dealt with insurance claims know how complex, frustrating, and headache-inducing these tasks can be. Insurance-related questions could easily fill several large books, but I’m going to focus on two that seem to arise with considerable frequency: What rights do condominium owners have when damage to a unit is covered by the association’s [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 NH legislature’s tweaks and additions to the NH Condominium statute have continued in 2017 with the passage of House Bills 501 and 502.  Both bills go into effect on August 15, 2017.  What follows is a brief summary of the new legislation.   HB 501:  Section 37(VI) of the NH Condominium Statute (RSA 356-B) was amended to require that an “electronic or paper copy of all meeting minutes” be made available to all owners [Read More...]

On September 29, 2017, the Massachusetts Appeals Court issued a decision in the case Calvao v. Raspallo, 16-P-1143 (September 29, 2017) that involved a dispute between the unit owners of a two unit condominium over an addition onto one of the units.  One of the unit owners renovated her unit, and included an approximately 111 square foot addition or expansion.  The expansion was constructed upon limited common area designated for her exclusive use.  The other [Read More...]

Representing condominium associations in three different states can be daunting.  MA, RI and NH have three very different condominium acts.  This document compares and contrasts the differences in the developer related provisions in the 3 acts. This comparison chart refers to pure statutory provisions themselves and does not include case law interpreting the same, I will leave that for another day. I hope you will find this reference chart helpful. Differing Statutory Levels of Developer [Read More...]

On May 18, 2016 the United States Department of Labor published its final rule (“Final Rule”) updating the overtime regulations governing the exemption of executive, administrative, and professional employees from the minimum wage and overtime pay protections.  The most significant part of the Final Rule updates the salary and compensation levels required for such employees to be exempt by increasing the standard salary level for the first time since 2004 to ($913 per week or [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...]

A tenant could prevent her landlord from recovering possession of the leased premises in a summary process action by showing that he violated the security deposit statute, the Supreme Judicial Court has ruled. Housing Court Judge (and former MEEB attorney) MaryLou Muirhead ruled that the tenant properly could assert a violation of the security deposit statute as a counterclaim for damages, but that a counterclaim on this basis is not a defense to the landlord’s claim [Read More...]

Unit owners in a condominium complex could sue a fellow unit owner for starting a fire despite provisions in the trust agreement stating that the owners were responsible for insuring their property and that any insurance they obtained had to waive subrogation against other unit owners, a Massachusetts Superior Court judge has ruled. The defendant who started the fire argued that the Condominium Trust’s insurance resolution meant that the plaintiffs had each agreed individually to [Read More...]

Where condominium trustees decided in 2013 to reallocate the common elements expenses assessed against the owner of the lower level of the development’s parking garage, the trustees could not retroactively enforce the reallocation for the years prior to 2013, a Massachusetts Superior Court judge decided. “This case arises out of a dispute between plaintiff Gerfman Global, LLC (Gerfman), which owns the Parking Garage Units (Garage Unit) of the Nautica Leasehold Condominium (Nautica), and the defendant [Read More...]

Master Deed     Declaration of Trust

Under the Massachusetts Privacy Act (M.G.L. c. 214, §1B), individuals have a “right against unreasonable, substantial or serious interference with his privacy.” That being said, in a number of cases, it has been held that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in the common areas of a community associations (which would include common area hallways, community rooms, common basements, foyers, etc.). Com. v. Serbagi, 23 Mass. App. Ct. 57, 498 N.E.2d 1363 (1986); Com. [Read More...]

BROOKLINE BANK Wesley K. Blair 131 Clarendon Street P.O. Box 179179 Boston, MA 02117 Tel: (617) 927-7974 AVIDIA BANK Howard B. Himmel 42 Main Street Hudson, MA 01749 Tel: 978-567-3630 ROCKLAND TRUST COMPANY Timothy W. Murphy 120 Liberty Street Brockton, MA 02302 Tel: 781-982-6629 NORTH SHORE BANK William J. Kell or Lisa Scopa 248 Andover Street Peabody, MA 01960 or Tel: 978-538-7068 or 978-538-7082

Do the following: Try to shave the snow down to 2-3 inches on the roof instead of scraping the roof clean, which will risk damage to the shingles or other roof covering. \ Keep all ladders, shovels and roof rakes away from utility wires Shovel snow from flat roofs throwing snow over the side away from the building Remove large icicles carefully if they are hanging over doorways or walkways. Consider knocking down icicles accessing [Read More...]

Last Sunday’s balmy weather compounded the ongoing issue of ice dams for many of our clients and the risk of further damage remains. For this reason we are sending out this alert in an effort to help associations cope with the ongoing snow crisis that we are all struggling with. QUESTION: Do roofs have to be fully raked of snow and ice dams broken up before any damage occurs, and by whom? Answer: In almost [Read More...]

The manager sitting across from me looked as if she had just walked 10 miles through a desert at mid-day without water. She might actually have enjoyed that exercise more than the one she had just endured – attending the monthly board meeting at a community association she managed. The scenario she described will be all-too recognizable to many managers and board members: The meetings rarely begin on time and often run past midnight. Discussions [Read More...]

Two years ago, Northeast Housing Court Judge David Kerman issued a ruling that an owner of a mixed used building was “strictly liable” for an intoxicated tenant’s fall through a defective porch guardrail in the case of Sheehan v. Weaver. The building contained three residential apartments located above a commercial establishment. None of the apartments were owner-occupied. After a night of drinking, one of the tenants fell through a porch guardrail suffering serious injuries. The connection of [Read More...]

The Supreme Judicial Court has issued a landmark decision that has effectively carved out an exception to the “economic loss rule” for condominium associations seeking to recover for defective construction and design.  In Wyman v. Ayer Properties, LLC, a case handled by Tom Moriarty and Dave Rogers of this office, the Supreme Judicial Court reversed the Superior Court’s dismissal of a condominium association’s claims associated with negligently constructed masonry – finding that the association could [Read More...]

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