MEEB WINS CONDO DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS CASE AT NEW HAMPSHIRE SUPREME COURT

Published on: May 5, 2015

On April 2, 2015, the New Hampshire Supreme Court issued an Opinion affirming a Judgment of the Hillsborough County Superior Court striking a developer’s unilateral attempt to extend condominium development rights beyond the statutory five year period. In New Hampshire, most condominium development rights are limited to a five year period (with one five year extension, which the developer exercised in this case while he still owned all the units). This means that the project must be substantially complete within five years. In this case, the day before the time limit was set to expire, the developer purported to create 3 “land only” units in a creative effort to extend the period within which it could complete the remaining 100 units in the development in perpetuity.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the Trial Court’s Decision that the Amendment did not create valid units under the New Hampshire Condominium Act, violated the plain meaning and spirit of the statutory time limit set forth in the New Hampshire Condominium Act and defeated reasonable expectations of buyers, whose interests are protected by the consumer-friendly nature of the New Hampshire Condominium Act.

The case was handled by Edmund A. Allcock, who is a Partner with the Firm and who has the unique distinction of having argued condominium cases in the New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island Supreme Courts. For the Trial Court’s Decision [click here] and for the Supreme Court’s Decision [click here]. To view Attorney Allcock’s oral argument at the New Hampshire Supreme Court [click here].

The Decision is the first of its kind for the New Hampshire Supreme Court interpreting development and convertible land rights in the context of “land only units” under the New Hampshire Condominium Act. Developers often time invoke creative methods to seek to avoid the statutory time limits imposed on Development Rights and proceed in violation of the Act. The New Hampshire Condominium Act requires a 67% unit owner vote prior to expiration, and an 80% vote subsequent to expiration of Development Rights. At stake in these cases is ownership and control of land sought to be developed. In this case, the land and rights now effectively belong to the Condominium Association as intended by the New Hampshire Condo Act. This case highlights the importance of these statutory deadlines and the rights of condo unit owners to exercise their voting rights in connection with the same.

If you have any questions about this case or its potential impact on your condominium, please contact Ed Allcock at eallcock@meeb.com.