Home > Massachusetts Condo & HOA Articles Archive
0 views 4 sec 0 Comment

Massachusetts Condo & HOA Articles Archive

/ Owner - July 1, 2012
  • Going Solar in a Condo Association (MA)
    More and more Americans are going solar every year. The economic and environmental benefits are hard to ignore. Let’s take a closer look at how going solar within an association differs from individual homeowners and how these solar projects can work.    Read the article…………………………….
  • Everybody Hates Assessments: Handling the Unpleasant Inevitable
    Ahh, the pleasures of home ownership; a space to call your very own, to arrange and enjoy as you see fit, all while building equity. It’s a key component of the American Dream—but when the faucet leaks in your condo or co-op unit, there’s no more calling the landlord. You’ve got to fix it yourself. In shared interest communities, that’s true of every component of the building, both inside and outside your unit. The upkeep, maintenance, and repair of everything from the roof to the boiler is a community expense, controlled by the board, the community’s elected representatives.    Read the article…………………………….
  • Respecting Rules & Rights: Strategies for Dealing With ‘Problem’ Residents
    Everyone wants to be a good neighbor—at least that’s what we’d like to believe. But, living in small spaces and sharing common areas can (and unfortunately does) lead to occasional conflict. That’s the unintended but inevitable consequence of shared interest community living. What one resident considers normal or acceptable may not be seen as such by their neighbors. The ensuing irritation can build up, and if not addressed and defused, can throw a community into turmoil, leading to acrimony, dysfunction, and other costs, both social and economic.   Read the article…………………………….
  • Financial Literacy for Board Members: Knowing More = Governing Better
    When a condo or co-op resident runs for a seat on their board, the decision to do so generally comes from a desire to ‘step up’ and participate in the governance of the place they call home, and the building or association community as a whole.   Often, the residents willing to serve on their board aren’t necessarily those with finely-honed skills and formal education in law, finance, and practical business management.   Read the article…………………………….
  • Manage the Risks Drones Create for Community Associations, But Don’t Ignore the Benefits (MA)
    When we’ve discussed drones in the past, we have focused mainly on how condominium associations can (and should) regulate their use to mitigate the safety and liability risks these small, unmanned aerial vehicles may create. But risks aren’t the whole story. Drone technology also has many potential benefits that community associations are beginning to recognize.   Read the article…………………………….
  • How to Combat Elevated Costs with Property Management (MA)
    Navigating property maintenance can be complex. However, it’s even more difficult when money and finances get involved, especially when inflation is causing rising costs. Yet, there are ways to make sure your property is getting the necessary care while preventing you from breaking the bank. Here are four ways to combat elevated costs with property management.   Read the article…………………………….
  • Shining a Light on Rooftop Solar for Massachusetts Condo Owners
    After the Trustees of his condominium refused his request for an Architectural Variance to install rooftop solar photovoltaic (SPV) panels on his unit, the owner brought suit in the Land Court seeking a determination that the Master Deed and the Declaration of Trust “which restricts the installation of objects in common areas without the Trustees’ approval constitutes such a ban or unreasonable restriction on solar energy and must therefore be void as applied to the installation of solar energy systems.”    Read the article…………………………….
  • Q&A: Regulating Risk
    Q. During the warmer months, owners in our condominium building have noticed a few e-bikes/scooters with lithium batteries around our community. At night these e- bikes/scooters seem to be housed in owners’ or renters’ dwellings. Based on some news stories we’ve seen (although I’m sure they are pretty isolated incidents), we have concerns that these vehicles could explode and cause a fire.    Read the Q&A………………………………..
  • Holding Orderly, Efficient Annual Meetings – It’s Not as Hard as It Seems!
    Talk to anyone familiar with common-interest community governance anywhere in the country, and they will tell you the same thing: apathy is rampant among residents of co-ops, condos, and HOAs. Not only is it difficult to get owners and shareholders to run for their boards of directors, but it’s a struggle to even get them to show up to the once-a-year meetings held to elect those board members and to update the community on what is happening in their home and property.   Read the article…………………………….
  • Boards & Boundaries: How ‘Available’ Should You Be?
    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……Non-physical boundaries are yet another thing. Living in close proximity to one’s neighbors requires a certain tolerance of other people being in one’s business, as well as (one hopes) a certain restraint in minding one’s own. A lot of neighborly behavior is subjective—one man’s helpfulness is another man’s nosiness, after all—making it hard to delineate and enforce these particular boundaries.    Read the article…………………………….
  • Tree Care & Maintenance: Keeping Your Biggest Landscaping Elements Healthy
    Trees provide us with many benefits, from the obvious to the not-so-obvious. Whether your community is an urban high-rise surrounded by hundreds of others, or a sprawling suburban development with acres of grounds, its trees are an integral part of the landscape—one that we often take for granted, but which requires specific, dedicated care and maintenance in order to stay healthy and lush for decades to come.   Read the article…………………………….
  • Courts May Be Expanding Condominium Association Liability Risks
    Condominium associations have an obligation to maintain common areas. Are they also liable for damage to owners’ units if a common area component fails? While the typical answer is no because the Owner is responsible for the Unit by virtue of the condominium documents, a Massachusetts Superior Court addressed the question recently, and its answer has potentially disturbing implications for condominium associations.   Read the article…………………………….
  • Making Your Property Accessible
    In both condos and apartments, owners and homeowner associations are responsible for making their properties accessible to all people. There is a responsibility to address all kinds of requests and grant them as long as they don’t burden your operations. Let’s take a look at how to best address making your property accessible whether you own an apartment or you are part of a condo association.   Read the article…………………………….
  • Shining a Light on Rooftop Solar for Massachusetts Condo Owners
    After the Trustees of his condominium refused his request for an Architectural Variance to install rooftop solar photovoltaic (SPV) panels on his unit, the owner brought suit in the Land Court seeking a determination that the Master Deed and the Declaration of Trust “which restricts the installation of objects in common areas without the Trustees’ approval constitutes such a ban or unreasonable restriction on solar energy and must therefore be void as applied to the installation of solar energy systems.”   Read the article…………………………….
  • Shining a Light on Rooftop Solar for Massachusetts Condo Owners
    After the Trustees of his condominium refused his request for an Architectural Variance to install rooftop solar photovoltaic (SPV) panels on his unit, the owner brought suit in the Land Court seeking a determination that the Master Deed and the Declaration of Trust “which restricts the installation of objects in common areas without the Trustees’ approval constitutes such a ban or unreasonable restriction on solar energy and must therefore be void as applied to the installation of solar energy systems.”   Read the article…………………………….
  • Improper Amendments Are VERY Expensive
    Earlier this year, I blogged on the case of Johnson v. Board of Directors of Forest Lakes Master Association, 454 P.3d 623 (2019) unpublished (Kansas) and explained how improperly passing and/or filing amendments can be VERY expensive. This is true in every state, and today we learn of another way that amendment errors can be costly.    Read the article…………………………….
  • Q&A: Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign (MA)
    Q. As election season approaches, I am anticipating—in light of the current divisive nature of our society—that we’re going to see some political battles arising in our condominium community. Over the past year or so, we’ve seen some residents posting flags or signage in their windows related to support for Ukraine, and more recently, Israeli or American flags as a response to the Hamas hostage situation.   Read the Q&A………………………………..
  • Aesthetic Rules Balancing Community Value with Individual Rights
    In the world of single-family homes, property owners can do pretty much whatever they want when it comes to the look of their place. They can paint their house bright purple, for instance. Or display Christmas or Halloween decorations that are so bright or scary they may keep the neighbors up at night. Clearly, the community nature of co-op and condo living—particularly in urban multifamily buildings—puts some limits to these forms of self-expression in the name of visual continuity, taste, and property values. But can rules governing aesthetics collide with owners’ rights of free speech and expression?   Read the article…………………………….
  • The Finer Points of Fining Condominium Owners
    Condo association rules provide a behavioral road map for owners, explaining what they are allowed and not allowed to do. But creating effective rules is only half the challenge for boards; enforcing the rules is the other arguably more challenging half of this equation.  When it comes to enforcement, boards don’t have many tools. They can’t “vote owners off the island,” they can’t arrest owners and they can’t evict owners from units they own.    Read the article…………………………….
  • Replacing Board Members
    Problem: One member of our seven-member board has resigned, leaving us with only six members. The association’s documents require a seven-member board, but the next election, at which a new board member might be elected, is several months away and there don’t appear to be any owners willing to fill the vacant position.    Read the Q&A………………………………..
  • Roof Replacement 101: A Project Too Vital to Put Off
    Nothing lasts forever, not even your roof. While roofs have a relatively long life compared to other building systems and components, at some point they will need either partial or full replacement. Here are the facts and factors you and your community need to know when your roof’s useful life starts winding down.    Read the article…………………………….
  • Tree Care & Maintenance: Keeping Your Biggest Landscaping Elements Healthy
    Trees provide us with many benefits, from the obvious to the not-so-obvious. Whether your community is an urban high-rise surrounded by hundreds of others, or a sprawling suburban development with acres of grounds, its trees are an integral part of the landscape—one that we often take for granted, but which requires specific, dedicated care and maintenance in order to stay healthy and lush for decades to come.   Read the article…………………………….
  • Holding Orderly, Efficient Annual Meetings – It’s Not as Hard as It Seems!
    Talk to anyone familiar with common-interest community governance anywhere in the country, and they will tell you the same thing: apathy is rampant among residents of co-ops, condos, and HOAs. Not only is it difficult to get owners and shareholders to run for their boards of directors, but it’s a struggle to even get them to show up to the once-a-year meetings held to elect those board members and to update the community on what is happening in their home and property.   Read the article…………………………….
  • How to Successfully Budget Your HOA
    A homeowners association makes the big decisions for your condo or living space. These big decisions include a budget, which encompasses how your association will decide which areas of your property require financial spending. Creating a budget is a complex project; at Thayer Associates, we’d like to make the process easier.     Read the article…………………………….
  • Do Condominium Boards Have the Right to Restrict Signs? (MA)
    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………………………………..
  • Boards & Boundaries: How ‘Available’ Should You Be?
    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…………………………….
  • Condominium Owners Should Recognize Their Rights and Understand their Responsibilities (MA)
    “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………………………………….
  • 10 things to know before you buy in a community association
    Are you planning to buy a home in a community association? There are a host of advantages to buying a condominium, cooperative, or single-family home in a planned community. A well-run association will protect property values in the community, maintain common areas (and perhaps even your own property), provide access to amenities like swimming pools and tennis courts, and assist with conflict resolution among neighbors.   Read the article……………………………..
  • 3 Ways to Maximize Sustainability in Your Community (MA)
    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…………………………….
  • Emergency Preparedness in the Era of Climate Change: Preparing for the Unpredictable
    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 well as increasingly intense discrete weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes, will continue and likely worsen as the planet continues to heat.   Read the article………………………………..
  • Powering E-Devices Safely: There Are Fires … And There Are E-Device Fires
    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………………………..
  • Holding Elections: Every Board’s Duty
    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………………………………
  • 10 things to know before you buy in a community association
    Are you planning to buy a home in a community association? There are a host of advantages to buying a condominium, cooperative, or single-family home in a planned community. A well-run association will protect property values in the community, maintain common areas (and perhaps even your own property), provide access to amenities like swimming pools and tennis courts, and assist with conflict resolution among neighbors.    Read the article…………………………….
  • HOA Electronic Voting and Bylaws
    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 prior to the election, but the board declined to do so. That candidate lost the election and sued alleging the vote was void because electronic voting was used.    Read the article……………………………..
  • Maintaining Your Elevators: Regular Care Can Help Avoid Huge Replacement Costs
    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), and we’d be climbing stairs all day long.    Read the article……………………………..
  • Effective Committees: Maximizing Use of Community Volunteers
    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, requiring time, energy, and diplomacy that the average homeowner might be unable or unwilling to give on a volunteer basis.    Read the article……………………………….
  • Amending Your Governing Documents – Why, When, & How to Make Changes
    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 somewhat from community to community.   Read the article………………………………..
  • Litigation in Your Community – Lawsuits Can Have Long-Term Impacts
    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 example, can be as distracting and destructive to a property’s reputation as the roar of truck traffic day after day.    Read the article…………………………….
  • Annoyance, Harassment, Complaint ot Threat: When Should Boards Act and What Should They Do?
    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 the article………………………..
  • Problem Solved – Accessing a Unit (MA)
    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………………………..
  • Resources for Multifamily Boards Where Communities Go to Stay in the Know
    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………………………..
  • Website Accessibility: The ADA and FHA
    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 is required and by whom under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and Fair Housing Act (FHA).   Read the article………………………..
  • When It’s Time for an Audit – Covering the Basics for Multifamily Boards
    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 associations and cooperative corporations, an audit is—or at least ought to be—a regular part of a healthy fiscal practice.   Read the article………………………..
  • Fannie Mae’s Secret ‘Blacklist’ of Properties: As Many as 1,700 Condos, Co-ops & HOAs May Be Affected
    According to a recent investigative piece by the Orange County (Florida) Register, Fannie Mae is keeping a secret “blacklist” of condominium, HOA and cooperative properties which the federal agency has decreed that lenders should stay away from. Fannie Mae is a United States Government sponsored enterprise whose purpose is to expand the secondary mortgage market. According to the Register, Fannie Mae’s “blacklist” identifies 1,400 properties and growing. A more recent report indicated that the list has grown to 1,700 properties.   Read the article………………………..
  • Insurance Premiums Skyrocket – 90% of Multifamily Communities Report Paying More – What’s to Blame?
    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………………………..
  • Fannie Mae’s Secret ‘Blacklist’ of Properties As Many as 1,700 Condos, Co-ops & HOAs May Be Affected
    According to a recent investigative piece by the Orange County (Florida) Register, Fannie Mae is keeping a secret “blacklist” of condominium, HOA and cooperative properties which the federal agency has decreed that lenders should stay away from. Fannie Mae is a United States Government sponsored enterprise whose purpose is to expand the secondary mortgage market. According to the Register, Fannie Mae’s “blacklist” identifies 1,400 properties and growing. A more recent report indicated that the list has grown to 1,700 properties.   Read the article………………………..
  • Can a Homeowners Association Kick You Out in Massachusetts?
    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………………………..
  • What’s Trending in Multifamily Amenities
    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 building or community from another and add to its popularity and property value.    Read the article………………………..
  • Trustee Certificates – An Important Part of Board Governance (MA)
    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 to be recorded each year, or upon the filling of any board vacancy.   Read the article………………………..
  • Window Maintenance & Replacement: Caring for a Crucial Building System
    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 windows can lead to problems with other building envelope systems, including façades of all types, from clapboard to masonry and everything in between.   Read the article………………………..
Comments are closed.