QUESTION: Our condominium association has a rule barring the display of signs in common areas or in locations visible from common areas. Some board members say we are required to make an exception for political signs. Is that true? Read the Q&A………………………………..
In multifamily residential communities, where neighbors share common space, amenities, and maintenance—if not actual walls—establishing and maintaining boundaries can be a bit tricky. Read the article…………………………….
“I know my rights!” This is a statement association boards hear frequently from owners, usually in response to a board decision, covenant or rule requiring something owners don’t like or prohibiting something they want to do. As it turns out, many owners don’t really know their rights. Read the article………………………………….
As climate change continues to take a toll on the planet, it’s important to understand how industries like property management and development can and should adapt in order to cease contributing to the ongoing crises. Read the article…………………………….
The acceleration of global warming and the accompanying climate crisis is affecting shared-interest residential communities all over the United States and around the world. This past September was the wettest ever recorded in the eastern United States, with nine times the normal rainfall. Scientists warn that excessive rain and wind, extreme heat and cold, as […]
All over the news, from coast to coast, reports of fires and explosions caused by lithium-ion batteries describe blazes that are out of control, difficult to extinguish, and excessively smokey. Tragically, many have resulted in fatalities and serious injuries, and certainly all have caused extensive damage to properties and the environment. Read the article………………………..
Shared residential communities such as condos, co-ops, and HOAs are modern examples of classic Athenian democracy: citizens governing themselves through active participation in governance. The key to that governance is the regularity of elections to the community’s leadership—which in this case is the board of directors. Read the article………………………………
An election for the Flagship Wharf Condominium Association’s board was upcoming. Members were told they could vote in person at the meeting, by directed proxy, or electronically through a unique link sent to each Unit. One of the candidates asked the board to amend the association’s Bylaws to explicitly allow for members to vote electronically […]
The elevator is one of those inventions—along with running hot and cold water and indoor plumbing—that have been around for so long we take it for granted. But elevators obviously weren’t always a part of the architectural landscape. Without them we’d still be living in a world of six-story buildings (maybe seven for the strong-legged), […]
In a typical condo, co-op, or homeowners association, residents have a lot to say about how their building or community is or should be functioning … but few actually step up to run for and serve on the board that does the actual governing. One reason is that board service can be a heavy lift, […]
In addition to their boards, common interest communities are governed by a set of foundational documents. In a condominium, those documents are the declaration and bylaws; co-ops also have bylaws, as well as a unique document called a proprietary lease. In addition, both condos and co-ops have a set of house rules that can vary […]
When seeking a place to call home, potential co-op and condo buyers are seeking a place of peace and quiet. No one wants to live in the midst of a tempest. And peace and quiet can be both literal and figurative, of course. The constant din of discord and disagreement caused by endless litigation, for […]
Remember when people would ask in the middle of a heated dispute: “Can’t we all just get along?” No one asks that question very often anymore because the answer clearly is, no. We can’t get along. We can’t seem to behave with even moderate civility. Debates (loosely defined) in Congress are only one example. Read […]
Most governing documents allow the trust to gain access to an owner’s unit to deal with both emergency and non-emergency situations. So the first step is to review the association’s documents to make sure they provide this authority Read the article………………………..
The Community Associations Network (www.communityassociations.net) is an online resource that aggregates news and information related to co-ops, condos, and HOAs. There, boards and service professionals can access the latest on legislation, events, and issues pertaining to association living and governance throughout the U.S. and Canada. Read the article………………………..
In recent years, and trending more frequently as of late, we have heard about businesses, big and small, receiving demand letters related to their website accessibility, alleging ADA noncompliance, and threatening to file suit and seek damages on behalf of the people with disabilities they represent. Here we will cover what web accessibility means and […]
When the average American taxpayer (or tax-dodger, one supposes) hears the word “audit,” they’re likely struck with a feeling somewhere between annoyance and terror—usually because being audited means that something has been found amiss in their filing. For businesses that rely on the accuracy and timeliness of their financial records, however, including condominium and homeowners […]
Inflation has hit the insurance building insurance industry in a big way. And according to a recent survey conducted by the Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR), skyrocketing premiums are putting serious financial pressure on condo and homeowners associations nationwide. Read the article………………………..
If you have always lived in a place without a homeowners association transitioning into one is often a challenge. You used to be king of your castle, and now you’re under someone’s constant supervision. When buying a condo, a homeowner’s association is commonplace. Read the article………………………..
The appeal of multifamily living is not just in the hands-off maintenance and shared general expenses that come with living in a condo, co-op, or HOA. It’s also in the sense of community and the on-site offerings that can be shared among neighbors. Amenities and social programming in co-ops, condos, and HOAs can distinguish one […]
Trustee certificates are an important and necessary part of board governance, but they are an often-neglected component. Trustee certificates are recorded with the county registry of deeds in which the condominium is located and evidence for the world the identity and authority of members of the condominium association’s governing board. Most condominiums require a certificate […]
When it comes to the list of most important systems to maintain—and potentially the most expensive to replace—in a multifamily building, windows are definitely near the top. The useful life of a given window depends on a number of factors, including its composition and design, as well as seasonal shifts and prevailing weather conditions. Deteriorated […]
Parking questions come up often and the answers to those questions are not always obvious. Resolution of parking issues typically comes down to what was contemplated by the governing documents and how that relates to the actual situation on the ground. The recent Land Court case of Stahl v. Baker delves into this issue. Read […]
Five years ago, the explosive growth of vacation-rental platforms like Airbnb had become a major concern for condominium communities, as an increasing number of owners discovered that renting their units to guests for short periods could produce significant income with minimal administrative headaches for them. Read the article………………………..
Among the keys to successful governance of residential communities is continuity. The most basic of democratically elected units, condo, co-op, and HOA boards are the custodians of their community’s welfare, success, and continued operation. Over time, the experience and insight accrued by board members, directors, or trustees are the compass and rudder that steer and […]
Conflict comes hand-in-hand with living in close quarters—and condominium and cooperative living is a prime example. Most dust-ups between neighbors involve run-of-the-mill issues like noise or hallway clutter, and can be settled with a cordial conversation between the parties involved—or with a mild nudge from the manager or board. Read the article………………………..
Amenity floors may have been once reserved for the most luxurious of condo developers, but they are now standard offerings across many multifamily residential developments. Read the article………………………..
It has long been commonplace for mortgagors to attack all aspects of a bank’s mortgage foreclosure sale in order to invalidate the foreclosure sale and retain the mortgaged property. There have been far fewer such attacks on the validity of a statutory condominium lien foreclosure, and no prior Massachusetts case has determined when the unit […]
In the world of co-ops, condos, and HOAs, management plays a slightly different role than it does in the rest of the real estate world. For example, in many rental buildings, the landlord or property owner often acts as de facto manager as well; in others, the manager may be an employee or an associate […]
In many ways co-op, condo, and HOA living represents the most basic form of representative democracy. Like the ancient Athenians, we gather periodically to elect a small group from among us to represent our joint interests and to oversee the finances and well-being of the community. Ah, now, if only it were that simple. Read […]
A recent summary judgment decision issued by the Suffolk Superior Court has endorsed the employment of the business judgment rule in assessing the decisions of a condominium association concerning the amount of insurance maintained. In Joseph Cimino v. Lynn Ornstedt et al., Suffolk Superior Court Civil Action No. 1984CV01991, the Court allowed the condominium association’s […]
In 2017, a Boston couple were brutally murdered in their penthouse apartment in a high-end condominium building. The murderer, the former employee of a company that supplied concierge services to the condo, had worked there, and so knew the ins and outs of the building—including some serious gaps in the property’s security that both the […]
Rules and regulations govern all aspects of community association living including, for example, when monthly common area charges are due, what types of pets (if any) you are allowed to keep, the time of day you can move in or out of your unit, whether and how you are permitted to rent your unit, landscaping […]
As many board members and property managers know, we are currently in a season where many condominium associations hold annual meetings. With each of those annual meetings generally comes an election for members of the condominium board. When a board is approaching an election, management and board members must be clear as to who is […]
This practice note explains the steps and procedures that must be followed to collect common area fees from delinquent condominium unit owners in Massachusetts. This practice note provides tips for navigating statutory requirements and also identifies traps that should be avoided when proceeding with a collection action in Massachusetts. Read the article………………………..
This practice note discusses the establishment and operation of a condominium in Massachusetts, including the organization of unit owners, budget, reserves, financial audits, books and records, common area expenses, insurance, annual meetings, and establishing and enforcing rules. Read the article………………………..
Even among otherwise conscientious, community-minded condo, HOA, and co-op residents, the idea of running for and serving on their board often ranks somewhere between taxes and dental work on their list of things to look forward to. It conjures thoughts of endless meetings…arguing about the minutiae of vendor bids…confrontations with neighbors unhappy with board decisions…gossipy […]
When faced with a significant liability claim, or even a small one, condo association boards have to decide whether to fight or settle it, typically in both cases, relying on insurance to cover the costs. A recent decision by a federal District Court in Massachusetts (Berkley National Insurance Company v. Granite Telecommunications) has made that […]
The recent Massachusetts Superior Court decision in Field, et al. v. Highbridge Concierge, Inc., et al., 1784 CV 02486-B (Mass. Super. Ct. July 5, 2022) (Roach, J.), defines the standard of care that condominium trusts owe to unit owners and others lawfully within the common areas. Read the article………………………..
Volunteer work may conjure images of philanthropy and gestures of goodwill, but in the case of volunteering to sit on a condo board, those in the know say it’s more like being a human punching bag. Read the article………………………..
A recent Massachusetts Superior Court decision (Field, et. al. v. Highbridge Concierge, Inc., et. al.) has rattled windows in the condominium world, describing, in large capital letters, the security obligations of condominium associations and association managers. Read the article………………………..
In early 2020, our firm was hired to prepare a reserve study for an unremarkable 136-unit, 12-story condominium in south Florida. It was the kind of association you could drive right by without noticing, not much different from all the other high-rise buildings in this coastal neighborhood. Read the article………………………..
Residents in condo and HOA communities are frequently quite busy. Boards generally consist of elected volunteers who nearly always have other jobs and lives outside their duties as trustees. So while a professional management company can handle much of the day-to-day operations of a multifamily community, no decision can be made without those board members […]
During the COVID-19 pandemic, both the federal government and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts imposed foreclosure and eviction moratoriums. Due to these moratoriums, consumer bankruptcy filings fell dramatically as the urgency to protect assets, especially residential property, was no longer an immediate concern. Once the moratoriums ended, there was concern that a tsunami of bankruptcy filings […]
The 347,000 planned communities in the United States—a number that includes cooperatives, condominiums, and homeowners associations—are generally governed by volunteer members of the building or community elected by their fellow unit owners or shareholders. There are no requirements or prerequisites for serving on a board, other than what might be specified in the governing documents […]