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The budget process and determining your condo fee

I often hear buyers proclaim that a condo fee is “too high” yet these same buyers seem not to know exactly what determines a condo fee. It is impossible to assess if the fee is “too high” without knowing the

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Supporting Your Staff: Letting Your Employees Know You Care

Most people go about their days paying little attention to the labor performed by those who make their lives easier. From transit workers to service employees to government officials, how often does one stop to thank the people making everything

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The Roles of Building Staff: Working as a Team for the Good of All

Supers, building managers, maintenance persons, custodial staff, groundskeeping personnel, porters, doormen, concierges—depending on the size of a community, the staff roster for a condo, co-op or HOA can be pretty long. The truth is, in the case of almost any

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Board Transparency: Consistent Communication Is Key

Community living – the very basis of co-op, condo and HOA life—is based on the idea of trust. In a community of potentially hundreds or thousands of residents, every resident can’t be involved in the making of every decision. Too

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Problem Boards: What To Do When Your Board Breaks the Rules

A condominium, cooperative or homeowners’ association elects a board for a specific purpose: to manage the community’s day-to-day business, oversee special projects, and draft and uphold the rules and regulations that keep life orderly and harmonious. In fact, the board

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Assessing Your Building’s Energy Consumption: How Green Are You?

Most folks know that turning off lights in unoccupied rooms, taking shorter showers, and turning down the thermostat a couple of degrees can help save energy – and by extension, money. However, helping an entire building or association cut costs

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Green Cleaning: Keeping Your Condo or HOA Fresh – and Eco-Friendly

Cleaning products should, ideally, have one primary function: to make things less dirty. But once one delves deeper into the overall goal, things get more complicated. What makes something really clean? Does it just look shinier? Smell better? Or is

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A Look at Cogeneration: Is It for Your Building?

Many residential properties obtain their power from a local energy supplier. But in recent years, boards and managing agents have investigated, and in some cases, installed “cogeneration ” systems that allow properties to produce a portion of the energy they

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Improving Indoor Air Quality: What’s That Smell?

In multifamily buildings that hundreds —maybe even thousands—of people call home, it comes as no surprise that unpleasant smells can become an absolute nuisance. The airways that run through the building, the chutes and areas that house the building’s garbage,

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Short-term Rentals Create Ongoing Concerns for Condo Associations

The short-term rental of residential property is producing long-term concerns. Those concerns, which were just emerging when I wrote about this issue three years ago, have grown exponentially as short-term vacation rentals have ballooned, creating what is now a $34

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Insurance Law: Some Important Cases to Know

Insurance liability is a very important issue for a condo or HOA association or a condo board. Most have built up a good relationship with their insurance agents or brokers, and many are content to leave the details to the

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Indemnity Clauses and Liability: Protection Runs in More Than One Direction

One of the unique aspects of community living, whether that community is a co-op, condo, or HOA, is the collective responsibility shareholders or association members take upon themselves when they offer to serve on their community’s board of directors. With

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Insurance Basics: Know the ABCs

For many people, insurance seems like its own mysterious realm, filled with terminologies that sound formidable and enigmatic. At the same time, people also understand the profound importance of insurance and what it can mean for the safety and security

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Got Conflict? Get Mediation!

Understanding what mediation is, how it works, the benefits for all parties, and the types of disputes that can be resolved with mediation, demonstrates how mediation can be an effective alternative to litigation.     Read the article………….

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Obtaining Prescriptions for ‘Therapy Pets’ Is Easy; Rejecting Accommodations Based on Them Is Not

We face many challenges in life. Obtaining a doctor’s note certifying the need for an emotional support animal isn’t one of them. And for condo association board members and managers, this is a source of considerable and increasing frustration.  

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Developers’ Rights Decisions: Puzzling, Perturbing, and Problematic

Litigation is unpredictable. That’s no surprise to anyone who fights court battles regularly. It is also a theme reflected in three recent court decisions dealing with developer rights.  In the first case, Condominiums at Lilac Lane v. Monument Garden, LLC,

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What Boards Should Know About Finances: Keeping Your Community in the Black

Money, money, money. The world runs on it. And your building’s well-being depends on it.  The issue is not just having funds, but managing them. Handling the finances for an entire building or association is a major responsibility, and boards—even

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Hiring—and Paying—Contractors: Who Holds the Purse Strings?

Co-op, condo and HOA living represents a unique social arrangement; it’s a paid-for membership club and a home at the same time. Many people enter into this arrangement without a complete understanding of the responsibilities of membership. Others, fully aware

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Inadequate Reserves: The Risks of Not Keeping Up

There are few feelings worse than encountering an unexpected expense and finding the piggy bank empty. That is why reserve funds and reserve studies are such important elements in the financial well-being of co-ops, condos and homeowners associations. It pays

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The State of Smoking: LegalMarijuana vs. Smoking Policies

While the exhortation to “smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” has never really gone out of style, one should take caution before lighting up just anywhere. Many places, from restaurants to airplanes to hospitals, expressly and strictly forbid anyone from

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Issues That Cross State Lines: A Look at Condo Legislation Trends

When it comes to legislation and legal issues that apply to condo associations, co-ops, and other multifamily housing models, the focus is often local—city ordinances, council meetings, and so forth – but there are judgments handed down and bills passed

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Real Estate Advice: What to expect with condo documents (MA)

Q: I am in the market for a condominium. This will be my first home. Can you explain the different documents I should be getting and the purpose of each?    Read the Q&A……………..

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Condo Boards Beware: Risks Outweigh Advantages of Using E-mail to Discuss Association Business

It is a sign of technology’s fast and firm grip that few of us can remember a time when we communicated by mail (letters inserted in envelopes, affixed with stamps and delivered by the post office) rather than e-mail, delivered

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Maintaining ‘Niche’ Amenities: Special Amenities May Need Special Care

Once upon a time, when someone purchased a condo or co-op, their ownership came with the privilege of using the building’s amenities. Those who lived in a building with a fitness room equipped with treadmills and weights considered themselves fortunate,

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Prepping Your Property for Warmer Weather

With the end of winter comes relief. No more snow or sleet or slush or sludge; it’s sunshine and windbreaker season, baby! But the board of a condo, cooperative or homeowners association cannot be content with simply waiting for April

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Playground Innovations: What’s New in Fun

Most kids these days have never had more options when it comes to fun: video games and electronic entertainment of every kind are ubiquitous, and all sorts of mobile toys, too. But amid a national childhood obesity epidemic, the need

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Underground Storage Tanks May Create Environmental and Liability Risks for Condo Associations (MA)

Do you have LUST? Not “in your heart,” as former President Jimmy Carter once confessed, but buried underground, somewhere in your condominium community? That ‘LUST’ is an acronym for “Leaking Underground Storage Tanks,” either currently in use or abandoned long

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Co-op and Condo Financing: A Market Overview

Today, some eight years after the economic devastation of the Great Recession first began to gather steam, financing for co-op and condominium buildings and individual unit purchases is again widely available. The market is overall quite healthy, and though there

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Seasonal Maintenance: A Year-Round Responsibility

Building maintenance follows a schedule based on the seasons, each of which presents a unique set of challenges to a co-op or condo. At certain times of the year, it just makes sense to do certain regular maintenance projects: weatherizing,

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Aesthetic Rules in Co-ops, Condos & HOAs: A Matter of Taste?

For many people, one of the most attractive aspects of co-op or condo living is the fact that everything, from the windows to the elevators to the numbers on the apartment doors, looks great. Clean, bright, elegant and well-maintained. For

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Caring For Trees: The Right Tree, in the Right Place

Trees may seem like the ultimate in low-maintenance landscaping; they’re naturally occurring, live for decades (sometimes centuries), don’t really require much in the way of watering, and sometimes don’t even need pruning. But while all that is true, in fact

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Marijuana Statute (MA) Raises Questions about Condo Insurance Coverage and Employment Rules

Proponents of the new state law permitting recreational use of marijuana, and the voters who approved it, viewed the measure as a long overdue move to put marijuana in the same category as alcoholic beverages ? no more or less

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Don’t Touch that Sidewalk! Doing Too Much Could Be as Problematic for Condo Associations as Doing Too Little

We regularly advise condominium boards to be wary of taking on obligations beyond those state laws or their association’s governing documents require them to assume. A recent decision by a Massachusetts Appeals Court adds a judicial exclamation point to that

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Avoiding Discrimination and Its Legal Consequences: The Power of Equality

Despite the fact that most people would agree that discrimination is a bad thing, discrimination persists, which suggests either that existing laws against it are sometimes ignored, or that the legal definition of ‘discrimination’ isn’t always clear. Fortunately, when it

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Building a Stronger Community: Encouraging Neighbors

Are condominiums, co-ops and HOAs cohesive communities? Is community part and parcel of what purchasers are seeking when they buy into a co-op, condo or HOA? The concept of ‘community cohesiveness’ could be defined as a community in which there

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Social Media and Your Community: What Works, What Doesn’t, and How to Choose

Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat, oh my! Today, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t use some form of social media to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues. Whether they are posting updates on their daily life, sharing articles

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Update on Marijuana Law: What is the 6-month Delay?

Last month, I advised all Massachusetts condominiums to adopt master deed amendments banning the smoking, growing and/or distribution (if your condominium contains commercial units) of marijuana. Since, then you may have heard that the Massachusetts Legislature voted to delay the

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Back From the Brink: Financial Ruin — and Recovery

happens infrequently, but when it does, it can be an enormous challenge: a co-op corporation or condo development has a long-running squabble with the building sponsor/developer, falls victim to long-term mishandling of funds — or outright fraud — by the

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Outsourcing Services: Getting the Most for Your Community’s Dollar

In the perennial struggle to control costs while still adequately maintaining a building or HOA’s physical plant, grounds, and other day-to-day business, some boards and managers are opting to hire superintendents, custodians, and other staff on a temporary, as-needed basis,

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Service-Based Amenities: Adding Value, But at What Cost?

In major US cities these days, the decision to live in one co-op or condo building versus another often hinges upon the style of living afforded in a particular property. Whether it is defined partly by a full-scale gym and

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A Look Forward Pros Predict What May Move the Needle in Condos/Co-ops/HOAs in 2017

Another year is behind us, and what a year it was! While 2017 and beyond promise to be eventful in myriad ways, it probably makes sense to focus solely on what’s ahead in the world of condominiums, cooperatives and homeowners

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Investigating How Reasonable Accommodation Requests Are (MA)

Condo associations deal with a variety of requests from their residents on a daily basis. In most cases, the association can easily decide whether or not to grant the request based on the cost, feasibility and necessity when it comes

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Recreational Marijuana Hits MA: Why Evey Condo Needs to Amend Their Documents to Prohibit Smoking, Growing & Selling

On December 15, 2016 the recreational use of marijuana became legal in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, after voters on election day approved Ballot Question 4 The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. Personally, I do not think that everyone knew

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Preserving Developer Rights and Protecting Association Interests

Relations between the developers who produce condominiums and the owners who purchase them are not always harmonious, to say the least. They clash over many issues, but disputes over retained developers’ rights and construction defects are among the most common.

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Snow Removal: No Business Like Snow Business

Time will tell whether global warming and climate change eventually make winter – and its attendant snow, ice, sleet, and other challenging weather issues – extinct, but for now at least, the colder months can take a seasonal toll on

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Surveillance and the Law: Maintaining Safety While Respecting Privacy

Secure. The word has many meanings. According to Google definitions it can mean “to fix or attach something to something else. It can mean to protect against threats or make safe. Or it can mean to feel free from fear

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Emergency Preparation: Planning for Worst-Case Scenarios

Some days it rains, some days it pours—and some days, there’s a Category 4 hurricane. And while the latter is relatively rare, it can be a true disaster, and any condominium, co-op or homeowner’s association worth its salt should be

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Neighborhood Watch: Maintain Your Community’s Safety, Safely

Everyone is right to be concerned with the safety of their communities, whether they live in an area highly susceptible to crime or a sleepy Mayberry-esque hamlet. Condominiums, cooperatives, and homeowners’ associations are no exception; in fact, the communal nature

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Wood-Destroying Pests: How to Protect Your Property

Whether interior or exterior, well-built, properly-maintained woodwork can last for centuries—but if wood-boring pests like beetles, termites, and carpenter ants find their way into the wood, they can wreak all kinds of havoc. Wood-destroying insects are more than a nuisance;

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Holiday Decorating: Keeping it Festive, Tasteful, and Fair

Since before recorded history, people have celebrated events, often decorating homes and public spaces to mark this or that special day or event. We still love to adorn our doors, windows, and other areas with festive décor at different times

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