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Indoor Air Quality for Co-ops, Condos and HOAs

Few things in life are as precious yet underappreciated as clean air. We take it for granted. Breathe in, breathe out—we rarely even notice the action.  Ensuring that the air we breathe is clean, fresh and safe is one of

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Getting the Lead Out: Protecting New England’s Drinking Water

While Flint, Michigan may have been the highest profile case of water being contaminated with lead in recent years, lead is an issue that water systems across the country have to navigate and monitor closely.  Earlier this year, elevated levels

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Pokémon, Zika and Marijuana Are Creating New Concerns and New Risks for Condo Associations

The risks confronting condo associations are generally well-known. Although there are always variations on old themes, the risk fundamentals don’t tend to change much from year to year. But every now and then new risks emerge, like Loch-ness monsters from

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Workers’ Compensation: What Your Board-Management Team Should Know

For over a century, states have had laws, rules and regulations in place to ensure that employees who are injured while performing their jobs are adequately taken care of. An uninsured employer that finds itself embroiled in a workers’ compensation

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So You Want to be a Board Member – Now What?

I wish someone had told me the nuances of trying to cultivate a community while also trying to manage a business,” said Pat Burke, the current president of the Fieldstondale co-op in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, when asked

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Companion Pets and Service Animals: How Do You Determine a Reasonable Accommodation?

Probably the biggest point of tension for any condo, HOA or co-op board is a pet ban. Enacting one can be a heated affair, leading to fights and arguments throughout the building community, but maintaining a ban on pets can

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Mass. SJC Holds HOA/COA May Obtain Successive 6-Month Priority Liens for Unpaid Common Expenses

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts recently held that a homeowners association may establish and enforce multiple contemporaneous liens for unpaid common expenses, each with a six-month period of priority over the first mortgage, by filing successive legal actions.   Read

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Board Members Beware: Condo Associations Are Attractive Targets for Cyber-thieves

Cyber-thefts are becoming more frequent, more sophisticated and more costly. This isn’t news to anyone who surfs the Internet, reads newspapers (I’m told I’m not the only one who still does that) and watches television news. But if you think

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Condo Owners Want Security: Are Associations Required to Provide It?

When a gunman opened fire on patrons at an Orlando nightclub a few weeks ago, killing and injuring more than 100, commentators grappled initially with the horror of the act. But they also speculated about the obligation of the nightclub

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Managing Employees: Good People Means Good Business

However, for employees of a condo or homeowner’s association—property managers, maintenance staff, and doormen—your home is their work. Your home is the place they have to clock in to, and because you entrust these individuals with your safety and with

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Show Me the Money: Collections, Foreclosures, Evictions

The first of the month rolls around and it’s time to pay the monthly dues that keep the building operational. Repairs might need to be made, maintenance done, bills paid to keep all the common elements running and those dues

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Financial Record-Keeping: Following the Money

Whether your community is a condo, HOA, or co-op, proper record-keeping is the difference between a healthy property and one headed toward peril. And while meeting minutes and election results require well-organized documentation, records such as bills, invoices, bank statements,

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Spotting Financial Irregularities: Red Flags Every Board Member Should Know About

While it’s pretty much impossible for a condo board, HOA or an employee thereof to commit fraud on the scale of a Bernie Madoff or any one of the greed-driven shysters who have made headlines in recent years, building boards

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Legislative Roundup: Impacting Condos, Co-ops, and HOAs

The legislative season is upon us, and in many states, bills specifically dealing with condos, co-ops and HOAs are wending their way through the legislative process. Even when bills aren’t aimed directly at those forms of home ownership, many general

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Handling Litigation: When Lawsuits Strike Close to Home

No one likes a lawsuit. Whether filing one or finding yourself on the receiving end of one, they can cause stress, anxiety and an upending of daily life. They can be expensive, take months—even years—to resolve, and often result in

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Choosing an Attorney for Your Association: Narrowing the Field When Looking for Legal Representation

Not every condominium or homeowners’ association is going to run afoul of the law—the happy truth is that litigation and legal trouble are relatively rare occurrences. But even the most upstanding board of trustees in New England must navigate a

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Managing Municipal Reimbursements: Who Pays What, and When?

…..imagine sorting out the obligations, reimbursements and guidelines of municipalities versus homeowners associations when it comes to things like road and street maintenance, garbage and snow removal, and other civil necessities. Some states mandate how cities, towns and villages must

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HUD Restrictions on Criminal Background Checks May Affect Condominium Sex Offender Bans

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued guidance restricting the use of criminal background checks to screen prospective residents. The guidance warns property owners that a blanket policy rejecting residents solely because they have a criminal record

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The Rise of Airbnb: What Condo Associations Need To Know About Short Term Rentals

Instances of home-sharing have skyrocketed recently due to the rise of websites such as Airbnb.com. For a small fee, these websites connect homeowners with people who want to find a place to stay for one night at a time. Homeowners

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Managing Tough Situations: When Neighbors Are Struggling

Condos and co-ops are called communities for a reason—families and individuals live side by side with one another, sometimes for years or even decades. Although residents may not exchange much more than a “hello” or “nice day” with their neighbors,

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Maintaining Balconies and Terraces: Safety Comes First

Before embarking on a real estate hunt, most prospective buyers craft lists. The “must have” list (square footage, operational plumbing, windows), the “would love list” (lots of natural light, Jacuzzi bathtub, doorman) and then the “probably just a dream” list

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Are You Covered? Insurance for Condos Goes Beyond the Basics

The experts who advise condo associations on insurance matters admit that the basic policies are pretty standardized and often seem to be all the same. Trustees may tend to gloss over the details and assume that anything important relative to

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In The Black: Explaining Common Condo and Co-op Budget Terminology

Taking care of a condo, co-op or HOA’s budget and finances is a big job. Handling such large sums of money is an important responsibility, and not every unit owner or shareholder has the expertise to do the job well.

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Proper Record-Keeping: Keeping a Paper Trail

Like any company, a multifamily residential community generates a lot of paperwork in the course of doing business, from employment records to tenant records and more. It can be an enormous amount of stuff to manage, and knowing what to

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The New Architectural Renderings: Marrying Technology and Smart Design

In the past, when it came time to do a remodeling project, no one really ever had much of an idea as to how things would turn out. Architects and designers would come by with blueprints or swatches of color

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Designing Common Areas: What Works Best?

In the past, developers would throw a few chairs and tables into a large room and call it a common area or a recreation room and leave it at that. Today, however, there’s more to designing, maintaining and upgrading a

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Incorporating Safety into Play Time: Recreational Playgrounds in Co-ops, Condos and HOAs

One universal truth on which we all can agree is that kids like to play. They love little more than getting together and having a bang-up good time. And in almost any cooperative, condominium or homeowners’ association, there is likely

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Massachusetts Court Rules for Condos, Against Banks in Superlien Battle

The underlying dispute began when the Brittons, owners of a unit in this Lexington, MA condominium community, withheld their monthly common area fees to protest fines levied on them for violations of parking rules with which they disagreed. The condo

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Alteration Issues: Private Projects Need Board Approval

It’s no secret that residents in condos or co-ops can be a fickle bunch, and many times decide to undertake a repair or remodeling project themselves, without going through the proper channels.    Read the article………….

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Is Hardscaping Right for Your Community? Non-Organic Landscaping

When most people think of landscaping, they think of shrubs, trees, meticulously laid-out and maintained flowerbeds, and artful plantings scattered around a building or development. However, landscaping doesn’t need to end with the things that grow.    Read the article…………

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Trustees’ Responsibilities and Unit Owners’ Right of Access to Condominium Books and Records in Massachusetts

When a dispute starts to arise between and a unit owner and a board of condominium trustees, the unit owner may ask to review the financial records of the condominium. The unit owner may suspect that the trustees are expending

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Certificates of Insurance Don’t Deliver the Protection they Promise for Associations and Managers

We’ve all heard that oral contracts “aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.” The same might be said of the certificates of insurance condo associations demand from their contractors: The certificates aren’t what they appear to be; they don’t provide

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MA Supreme Judicial Court lets condo board establish multiple liens

When the defendant owners of a condominium unit withheld payment of their monthly common expenses because of a parking dispute, the plaintiff organization of unit owners could establish multiple contemporaneous priority liens — each superior to the first mortgage on

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Land Use Restrictions in Massachusetts

You are a Massachusetts landowner, possibly a homeowner in a residential subdivision. When the developer planned your community, it may have for example, sought to impose a set of building restrictions or restrictive covenants, for the stated purpose of protecting

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Condominium Restrictions, By-Laws, and Rules and Regulations in Massachusetts

As part of a condominium board’s authority to manage and control the common areas of a condominium, the trustees often adopt by-laws and rules and regulations which govern how the unit owners can use the common areas and their units.

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Can Condo Associations Bar Political Signs in Common Areas?

A tiny political sign triggered a giant-sized dispute in a Colorado condominium, when the association manager said the sign violated an association rule governing common area displays and told the residents to remove it.  Read the article…………

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Capital Improvements: Getting Financing and Board Approvals

Even if your condominium or homeowner’s association (HOA) is a fortified castle atop a hill and surrounded by a moat, one day, someone will hit it with a really big rock, and thus it’s inevitable: work will be done, repairs

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Utility Hazards: Recognizing the Signs of Danger

There are certain perils—fires, major weather events, and so forth—that announce themselves clearly; others are more subtle, if no less hazardous. Things like gas leaks, electrical shorts and surges, and water leaks may not be as dramatic as a hurricane

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Spring Cleaning Checklist: A Property Manager “Must-Do” List

Spring cleaning isn’t just for unit owners. As we move out of the winter months, now is a great time to make sure your property is “spic and span” for the rest of 2016.    Read the article………….

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Maintaining Roofs: Repairs, Replacement, and Responsibility

A building’s roof serves as the first line of defense against whatever the skies throw at its inhabitants—wind, rain and blazing sun, even snow and ice in some climates—so it’s crucial for that roof to be sound and well maintained.

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Montgomery (MD) Commission on Common Ownership Communities Under Review

Changes to the operation, composition and dispute resolution process of the Montgomery County Commission on Common Ownership Communities (CCOC) are under review by the Montgomery County Council.   Read the article……….

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Upgrading Security: The Latest Technologies for Condos and HOAs

While it’s true that over the last two decades, New England has become a safer place to call home, that doesn’t mean that security concerns don’t still exist—especially for those in condos or HOAs. While security guards, electronic gates and

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Doing It Yourself: Does Self Management Really Work for Your Property?

Is it simply about the money? Condo associations that forgo the services of professional management are cutting what may seem like a major expense. But the belief that “we can do it ourselves” may work great for some time and

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Board Transparency: Let It All Out — Really?

In town and city government, elected officials and committee volunteers are duty-bound and legally required to maintain open meetings and treat every line item of taxpayer funds as public information. Condominium communities, and the way they’re operated, are often compared

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Us Versus Us: What to Do About a Bad Board

Infighting: The thought of it in a condo community makes everyone cringe, from residents to board of trustee members to property managers. It also puts those involved in an awkward position. Although it isn’t a common occurrence, thankfully, conflict can

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HUD’s Proposed Harassment Rule Would Be Painful for Condo Associations

The department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has offered that assurance for regulations the agency has proposed, clarifying the standards for assessing harassment claims under the Fair Housing Act.   Read the article………

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(MA) Arbitrators’ Award of Attorney’s Fees Thrown Out Because Parties’ Agreement Did Not Provide for It

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently voided an arbitration panel’s award of attorney’s fees because the terms of the parties’ arbitration agreement did not specifically provide that the prevailing party could be awarded fees.    Read the article………..

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FHFA Attacks Condominium Limited Priority Lien

The condominium “superlien” is under attack. That doesn’t overstate at all the concerted efforts now under way to revoke a measure that has been working well in many states for more than two decades. Nor does it exaggerate the potential

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Building Safety for Everyone: Emergency Preparation Includes Residents with Special Needs

New England is home to more than three million seniors age 60 and older, and about one in four suffers some type of physical impairment. When you factor in a climate prone to blizzards and heavy snow storms, a disaster

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Condo Inspections: Check Yourself

Condominium associations, whether housed in a single building or in a sprawling development, provide a reliably cozy and comfortable community in which to live. But this comfort requires vigilance on the part of both board and management to ensure that

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