Massachusetts 2013/2014 Legislative Update

Published on: April 18, 2013

The 2013/2014 Massachusetts legislative session is just getting underway, and while it is difficult to know where things may head, there is already a lot of action on the condominium front.  MEEB attorneys, Stephen M. Marcus, Thomas O. Moriarty, Douglas A. Troyer, William F. Thompson, and Matthew W. Gaines, are all members of the CAI Massachusetts Legislative Action Committee (the “LAC”), and it appears they will have their hands full this legislative session.  The LAC is currently tracking over 50 bills that, if passed, would in some way impact condominium associations in Massachusetts.  Here are some the highlights of the bills filed this session:

H. 1091, An Act Relative to Condominium Elections.  H. 1091 would establish certain requirements for conducting elections for Board members, including a call for nomination and election inspectors.  In addition, the bill states that one only needs a plurality of ballots cast in order to be elected to the board.  Under such a scenario, and lacking any quorum requirement, one could get elected to the board with a very low number of votes.

H. 1148, An Act Relative to Meetings of Condominium or Homeowners Associations.  This bill, is passed, would require boards to conduct all association business in open meetings, with only a few limited exceptions.  The concern here is that this would impede the ability of a board to discuss certain confidential matters among themselves, particularly involving pending litigation, unless the association’s attorney is present.

S. 602, An Act to Clarify Chapter 183A of the General Laws.  This bill was proactively filed by the LAC and seeks to address two issues.  First, the bill proposes to eliminate a contradiction contained in the Condominium Act with respect to the procedure for granting limited common areas.  Second, the bill would add a new provision to the Condominium Act stating that if condominium documents require the consent of mortgagees to amend the documents, and a mortgagee does not respond to a written request for such consent within sixty (60) days, consent shall be deemed given.  Given the difficulty in obtaining a timely response from the large national banks, this amendment to G.L. c. 183A will save associations significant time and expenses associated with trying to obtain mortgagee consents to amend documents.

S. 726, An Act Relative to Construction Defect Claims by Condominium Owners.  This bill was also filed by the LAC and attempts to address a serious inequity in the filing of construction defect lawsuits.  If passed, the running of the statute of limitations and statue of repose for construction defect claims against a developer by the condominium association would not begin until the developer has turned over control of the condominium association to the unit owners.  This is necessary because under the current law a developer can effectively prevent a construction defect lawsuit from being filed against him by retaining control of the association for an extended period of time, thus, preventing any remedy for the unit owners against the developer for construction defects.

Over the past several legislative sessions, the number of bills filed the could affect condominium associations has steadily increased.  While the industry welcomes legislative guidance, many of these proposals are filed to address isolated instances, but if passed, would have a detrimental impact on unit owners, associations, governing boards, and property managers.  As the LAC and MEEB attorneys continues to advocate for and against bills that could impact condominium associations, we are hopeful that the legislative leaders will continue to heed our concerns when provided and seek our counsel when needed.

If you have any questions concerning any legislation or would like more information on any bills mentioned in this article please do not hesitate to contact Matt Gaines at mgaines@meeb.com.