Category: General

Senate Bill 1987 Passes Legislature at Midnight Hour Senate Bill 1987, sponsored by Shrewsbury State Senator Michael Moore and the Massachusetts Land Title Association, would render clear and marketable to any title affected by a defective foreclosure arising out of the U.S. Bank v. Ibanez ruling. Estimates are that hundreds of innocent homeowners are affected by paperwork errors by foreclosure lenders, rending them unable to sell or refinance their homes.  The issue created by the [Read More...]

In the first of what should be many cases dealing with marijuana use in rental housing, the SJC ruled recently that a Section 8 tenant could be evicted for the possession of under one ounce of marijuana combined with allowing her live-in boyfriend to deal marijuana and possess a gun at the leased premises. The court overruled Boston Housing Court Justice Jeffrey Winik’s prior decision preventing the eviction of the tenant. Judge Winik was unconvinced that [Read More...]

The new law will be codified at Massachusetts General Law Chapter 149, Section 29F. Every contractor should be aware of this new law.  Condominiums with large projects and property managers managing large projects should be aware of this new law as well. The new law takes effect on November 6, 2014 and applies to construction contracts signed after that date on private construction contracts where original value of the prime contract is at least $3,000,000.  It [Read More...]

An Orange County jury found a homeowners association negligent for failing to resolve a secondhand smoke dispute between neighbors at a Trabuco Canyon condominium.  Trends usually move west to east so New England condominiums and HOAs should be concerned and pro-active. After a five-week trial, Superior Court jurors last week awarded a family more than $15,000, finding the condo association and management failed to ensure the non-smoking family’s right to the “quiet enjoyment” of their own [Read More...]

Over the past twenty years or so, Massachusetts condominiums were able to collect six months of unpaid condominium fees and attorney’s fees.  In addition, they were able to collect on-going condominium fees by filing a second or third lien action, etc.  Unfortunately, on Friday, November 7, 2014 the Appeal’s Court decided that Condominium Associations are only allowed to have one priority lien at a time. Condominium Associations must now be aware that they may not [Read More...]

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) recently issued another decision affecting the foreclosure of mortgages in Massachusetts. In Easthampton Savings Bank v. City of Springfield, No. 11612, slip op. (Mass. Dec. 19, 2014), the SJC struck down two mortgage ordinances adopted by the City of Springfield (“City”) in 2011, holding that both ordinances are preempted by existing state laws. The ordinances deal with the foreclosure process and were adopted in response to a wave of [Read More...]

As one of his last acts in office, Governor Patrick signed into law a bill that adds a new section to the Massachusetts Condominium Act that will make it easier for associations to obtain mortgagee consents when amending condominium documents.  The bill, which was proposed by Community Associations Institute Massachusetts Legislative Action Committee, chaired by MEEB’s Matthew W. Gaines, will greatly benefit many condominium associations in Massachusetts that for years have been faced with an [Read More...]

Just when you were getting used to your iPhones, it is time to get ready for the next wave.  Smart phones may soon be replaced with smart glasses.  Google Glass allows the user to view images called up in the glass through voice activation or by touching the rims of the glasses.  The product is expected to hit the market in 2014.   Currently they sell on e-bay for around $2,300 a pair. Google Glass like [Read More...]

Registered Land is unassailable.  This is one of those “truths” Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyers have had drilled into their heads over the years.  Registered Land is supposed to be unassailable because land boundaries, easements and encumbrances are determined through an exhaustive, time consuming and expensive process and ultimately certified in the form of a Certificate of Title signed by a Land Court Judge.  Anybody who goes through that process (which some real estate lawyers think [Read More...]

A recent Decision out of the Maine Supreme Court illustrates that condominium smoking bans continue to be a legal hot topic.  In 2010, the Sunspray Condominium Association adopted a condominium wide smoking ban, banning smoking in the entirety of the condominium property, including within units.  Presumably this was done by a Declaration Amendment, however the Court record is unclear on this point.  As an aside, MEEB recommends that if a smoking ban extends within units, [Read More...]

The term “associational discrimination,” in the context of an employment discrimination claim, refers to a claim that a plaintiff, although not a member of a protected class himself or herself, is the victim of discrimination animus directed toward a third person who is a member of the protected class and with whom the plaintiff associates. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“S.J.C.”) has, in a narrowly tailored decision, expanded the reach of the state’s anti-discrimination statute, [Read More...]

By Edmund A. Allcock Developers and their attorneys across the state are ecstatic about a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that reduces the amount of concessions and conditions municipalities can extract in granting permits. A 5-4 majority in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District held that the U.S. Constitution’s takings clause not only applies to cases in which a project is approved with “extortionate” conditions, but also to those denied when a developer refuses [Read More...]

Recently, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) had an occasion to review the case law and policies concerning the interpretation of the Massachusetts lodging house law.  In the matter of City of Worcester v. College Hill Properties, SJC 11166 (May 15, 2013), the SJC considered a case involving two-family and three-family rental properties in the City of Worcester owned by the Defendants.  The properties contained units consisting of a living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom [Read More...]

Recently, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) had an occasion to review the case law and policies concerning the interpretation of damage provisions in commercial leases in the event of a default.  To that end, in the matter of 275 Washington Street Corp. v. Hudson River International, LLC, SJC 11217 (April 30, 2013), the SJC considered a case involving a commercial landlord who entered into a twelve (12) year commercial lease with a tenant who [Read More...]

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently concluded that a real estate broker has a duty to exercise reasonable care in making representations, and that certain exculpatory provisions contained within a standard form purchase and sale agreement do not relieve real estate brokers of that duty. In the case of DeWolfe v. Hingham Centre, LTD, SJC-11168 (April 11, 2013), a real estate broker was hired to sell property in Norwell, Massachusetts. The sellers informed the broker [Read More...]

“Condominium Association to Pay $1 million in Discrimination Case.” “Justice Department Obtains $120,000 Settlement in Discrimination Suit Against Condominium Association.” “Condominium Pays $20,000 to Settle Fair Housing Complaint.” To read the headlines, you’d conclude that condominium associations are forever on the wrong end of Fair Housing-related discrimination complaints, and in fact, they do lose often enough to make Saint Jude (the patron saint of lost causes) seem an appealing ally. But condominium boards win some [Read More...]

The sky is not falling! I feel compelled to make that point in the wake of another in a series of recent court decisions concluding that community association rules must respect, at least to some degree, the Constitutional right to freedom of speech. These decisions – three of them now in New Jersey and one in Massachusetts – have unnerved some association board members and industry executives, who have long assumed, correctly, that because associations [Read More...]

Pursuant to G.L. c. 183A, §6(a), condominium common expenses are to be assessed against all units in accordance with their percentage interest in the condominium’s common areas, and the “organization of unit owners shall have a lien on a unit for any common expense assessment  levied against the unit from the time the assessment becomes due.” G.L. c. 212, §3 provides that actions may proceed in Superior Court only if the amount in controversy exceeds [Read More...]

It can be an unpleasant consequence of doing business: your employee damages property or impermissibly consumes your property and the bill comes to you, the employer.  What can you do about it?  For those condominium associations and management companies who are considering a policy of a wage set-off for their employees who damage property during the scope of their employment or impermissibly consume employer property, recent developments in Massachusetts employment and wage laws should give [Read More...]

Over the past few years we have seen an increase in the number of requests for reasonable accommodations/modifications by residents with disabilities.  The most common requests are for emotional support or service animals; however, the requests can be for just about anything, so long as it is related to the resident’s disability and necessary for that individual.  When presented with a request for a reasonable accommodation/modification, condominium boards must handle each request on a case-by-case [Read More...]

Massachusetts voters last fall said a resounding “yes” to medical marijuana, approving a petition legalizing the use of that otherwise illegal drug for medical purposes. The Bay State joins 17 other states ― Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut among them ―and the District of Columbia on a rapidly growing list of states that have approved similar measures and are grappling with the avalanche of legal questions they have spawned. Those questions are proving particularly [Read More...]

In Massachusetts, the general rule is that a property owner owes a duty to all lawful visitors on the premises to use reasonable care to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition in consideration of all the circumstances. Generally, a landowner does not owe a duty to affirmatively protect visitors against the dangerous or unlawful acts of third persons. Similarly, landowners typically do not owe a duty to warn of open and obvious dangers [Read More...]

Over the past several years, the Massachusetts Legislature has been busy in instituting major changes in the area of employment law.  Two significant changes regarding personnel records and employment applications that every condominium association and management company employer should be aware of include the following: I.          Employers are Required to Notify Employees of  Negative Information Placed in Personnel Records and Provide Access to Personnel Records Upon Written Request. Massachusetts law defines a personnel record as [Read More...]

It is undoubtedly true, and something of an understatement, to say that ‘you don’t always get what you want’ in court decisions. It is also true that you don’t always get what you expect. A Massachusetts Appeals Court recently provided a rare combination: An outcome we wanted but didn’t really expect. In Wyman v. Ayer Properties, the court held that the “economic loss” rule, which limits recovery in tort actions (as distinguished from breach of [Read More...]

Whether you sign up for that gym membership promising yourself that this will be the year that you finally shed those unwanted pounds, or you find yourself having just a little extra time to think beyond the day-to-day blur that each of us call our lives – this time of year, for some reason, really does lend itself to new beginnings and planned changes.   If you live in a small condominium, it may be difficult [Read More...]

The Appeals Court has issued a pivotal decision that has effectively carved out an exception to the “economic loss rule” for condominium associations seeking to recover against developers for defective construction.  In Wyman v. Ayer Properties, LLC, the Appeals Court reversed the Superior Court’s dismissal of a condominium association’s claims associated with negligently constructed masonry – allowing the association to recover more than $375,000 from the developer of a Lowell condominium. The Appeals Court (Sikora, [Read More...]

Most community associations and their attorneys would probably agree that mediation can be a desirable alternative to litigation for resolving some disputes. But should associations be required to arbitrate disputes with condominium developers, even if neither the association’s board nor its owners explicitly agree to that requirement? The California Supreme Court answered that question affirmatively in a recent decision, ruling (in Pinnacle Museum Tower Association v. Pinnacle Market Development) that mandatory arbitration provisions are enforceable [Read More...]

On November 6, 2012 Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of ballot question 3. The approval of Petition Number 11-11, “An Initiative Petition for a Law for the Humanitarian Use of Marijuana,” legalizes the medical use of marijuana in the Commonwealth.  With almost all precincts reporting, 63% of voters registered their approval for the measure. In so doing, Massachusetts joins 17 other states and Washington D.C., including nearby Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont, in [Read More...]

“Don’t try this at home!” This warning, which scrolls under some television ads and programs, would be equally appropriate advice for the way one community association board managed a major construction project. (This is not actually one specific board but a composite, reflecting the experiences of several different boards.) The trustees obviously didn’t set out to provide a case study in how not to manage a construction project, but on the list of “things not [Read More...]

As of October 16, 2012, sixteen municipalities in California have banned smoking in condominiums and apartment complexes.  Most trends seem to work from west to east so you can expect to see this in the east in years to come. SAN RAFAEL, Calif., Oct 15 (Reuters) – A San Francisco suburb on Monday banned smoking in duplexes, condominiums and other multi-family homes, with city leaders saying they hoped to lead a wave of such regulations [Read More...]

© 2019 Marcus Errico Emmer Brooks PC