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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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Funding Your Reserves: Banking Against Surprises

Bill and Martha Jensen bought a new condominium in Brockton in 1995 and lived there for 19 years. In 2014 they sold the unit to Max and Rita Diaz. A year later, the condominium association’s board of directors voted to

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A Look at Election Fraud: Staying on the Up and Up

Every co-op, condo, and HOA must elect a board of directors to oversee the community’s finances, physical maintenance, and other day-to- day operations. While board elections don’t rise quite to the level of a state or even local election in

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When Residents Are Disruptive: Tips for Keeping the Peace

Despite living in association, sometimes disputes erupt. Some residents just can’t be reasoned with. They’ll bother the board or other residents in various ways: noise at all hours, smells, maybe even just being a pest. No matter what it is,

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Home-Based Businesses: Challenges for Today’s Co-ops, Condos and HOAs

According to U.S. Small Business Administration statistics, over half of all small businesses begun in the last decade have been home-based—that’s more than 38 million in real numbers—with a new home-based business being launched every 12 seconds. Home-based businesses (HBB)

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Pet Policies in Boards and Associations: From No Pets to Petopia

Although it may sometimes feel as if our pets have the run of the land, humans are still the masters of their own domains. In order to maintain this status quo—especially in a communal environment such as a condominium, cooperative

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Sometimes It’s Hard to Waive Subrogation: Pacific Indemnity v. Deming

According to the recent decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Pacific Indemnity Company v. Deming, 2016 WL 3607028, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 12374 (July 5, 2016) common contractual provisions that defendants frequently assume amount

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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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