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Legal Updates



New Power for Condominium Associations to Collect Unpaid Condominium Fees

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On March 29, 2016, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued an important decision for Condominium Associations. In the Drummer Boy Association, Inc. v. Britton case, the Court has ruled that a Condominium Association may file successive legal actions to establish and enforce liens on condominium Unit Owners in successive 6 month periods.

Read more... [New Power for Condominium Associations to Collect Unpaid Condominium Fees]
 

Protecting Condominium Associations - Collecting Unpaid Fees

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The Appeals Court of Massachusetts recently restricted the 'super lien' of condominium associations over first mortgage holders for unpaid condo fees to the six months immediately preceding the filing of a lawsuit and no more.

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Not In My Backyard - Abutters and Zoning Decisions

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Recent decisions in Massachusetts courts have tightened the requirements for challenging a zoning decision. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

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Are You Liable Following An Underage Drinking Party At Your Home?

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Recently, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that a teenager who had hosted an underage drinking party, but did not supply alcohol, could not be held civilly liable if one of the guests were hurt. 

The case involved a 16-year old girl who was seriously injured in a car accident after she left a party at the home of a 19-year old girl. The 16-year old girl was seriously injured when the car driven by her boyfriend, who also attended the party, was involved in an accident. Both of them had drank alcohol at the party, however, the boyfriend had bought the alcohol and brought it to the party. The 19-year old girl's father and owner of the home was not home at the time of the party. The injured girls parents sued the 19-year old party host.

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Should Your Investment Property Be In An LLC?

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The choice of the right business entity for your investment real estate is an important decision. It is driven by many factors and can have numerous consequences. It is extremely important to work with your legal and professional advisers to determine the correct form of entity that will be used. Things to consider when choosing how to hold title to your investment property should include; personal liability, income and estate tax ramifications, lifetime and estate planning, allocation of profits, number and type of investors, lender requirements and management considerations.

For real estate, the Limited Liability Company or LLC is often the best choice for a number of reasons:

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Collecting Overdue Condominium Fees in Massachusetts

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Unpaid condominium fees and special assessments are a common issue facing associations in Massachusetts. In dire economic times, the arrearage only tends to increase. The condominium association is left trying to work within a budget, lower than anticipated.

Thankfully, however, Massachusetts provides a unique form of protection for condominium associations against delinquent fees known as the "super-lien process." According to M.G.L. c. 183A § 6(c), outstanding condominium fees are a lien against the delinquent unit from the date the fees become due. The delinquent unit owner is personally liable for all condominium fees, including late charges, fines, interest and collection costs.

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Secret Judges

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Effective December 19, 2011 the Social Security Administration's Office of Hearings and Adjudication (ODAR) instituted a new policy where the identity of the administrative law judge assigned to each claimant's case will not be disclosed until the time of the hearing. The abrupt adoption of this new policy has met with much criticism from claimant attorneys who feel the policy will negatively impact their claimants, adding additional uncertainty to the already long and cumbersome process of getting their day in court.

ODAR's rationale for the new policy is to prevent claimant representatives from "forum shopping" in trying to avoid certain judges. Claimant representatives critical of the change argue that no desirable purpose will be served by the new policy and, instead, the policy will serve to further hinder a claimant's ability to receive a fair and timely adjudication of their case.

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Real Estate Broker Held Liable for Incorrect Representations

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In a recent Massachusetts case decided in November, 2011, a real estate broker’s information in a newspaper ad and on the listing sheet, incorrectly stating the zoning classification of a property, caused the real estate broker to be held liable for misrepresentation.

After operating a hair salon in the Town of Norwell for several years, a businessman began seeking a possible site to relocate his business.  After seeing a real estate listing in a local newspaper, the businessman became interested in a property on Washington Street in Norwell.  The newspaper advertisement stated that the property was “zoned Business B.”  The businessman called the broker to inquire about the property.  He then viewed the property without the broker present.

On a second visit to the property, the businessman informed the broker that he would like to purchase a property that would accommodate a 6-station hair salon.  At this second viewing, the broker provided the businessman with a copy of the multiple listing service (MLS) listing, which she had prepared at the same time she had advertised the property in the newspaper.  The listing stated that the property was zoned as “Business B.”  The businessman also testified that the broker further informed him at the second viewing that he could purchase the property as a two-family residence and later legally convert it to a hair salon due to its commercial zoning.

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Landlords Beware: Four Unrelated Persons Equal A Rooming House

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A recent Massachusetts case clarifies that when an apartment is rented to four or more unrelated individuals, the law will treat that apartment building as a rooming house, thereby subjecting it to a different set of regulations.

In this case, the City of Worcester sued a landlord who was leasing his apartments to groups of students.  Although the apartments were in fact large enough to accommodate the students under the state sanitary code, the city claimed that they constituted rooming houses and were therefore prohibited.  A Housing Court judge sided with the city and ordered the landlord to discontinue renting to more than four unrelated individuals.  On appeal, the Appeals Court upheld the Housing Court’s decision and found that a landlord who leases to four or more unrelated adults is in violation of the state’s lodging house statute.

Landlords should consequently beware that by subjecting themselves to the lodging house statute, they may be violating zoning regulations.  This could, in turn, expose a landlord to additional liability in the event that a neighbor were to complain as a result of a loud party or other disturbance occurring on the premises.

Read more... [Landlords Beware: Four Unrelated Persons Equal A Rooming House]
 

Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income Work Incentives

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Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides benefits to disabled or blind workers who are insured as a result of their work history of contributions into the Social Security trust fund. The Supplemental Security Program (SSI) is need based and pays monthly benefits to disabled individuals with very limited income and resources.  The disability definition for SSDI and SSI is the same.  In order to be entitled an individual must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) and the disabling conditions must have lasted or be expected to last for at least twelve months.

A dollar amount threshold is used to determine whether an individual is engaged in SGA.  For 2011, the SGA amount for individuals with disabilities, other than blindness, is $1,000.00 in earnings per month. In 2012, the SGA threshold will be $1,010.00 per month.

Social Security provides work incentives for recipients of both SSDI and SSI.  Special rules make it possible for disabled individuals to work and remain entitled to monthly payments and Medicare and Medicaid. Individuals receiving SSDI are allowed a 9 month Trial Work Period (TWP) during which they remain entitled to their full monthly benefit regardless of the amount of their earnings. Note that the monthly earnings amount used to determine whether a month counts for the TWP is not the same as the SGA threshold.  The amount used to establish whether a month counts for the trial work period is $720 per month and will remain unchanged for 2012.  Monthly payments will end if a claimant successfully completes the TWP and remains able to engage in substantial gainful activity.

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Recent Updates

New Power for Condominium Associations to Collect Unpaid Condominium Fees

On March 29, 2016, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued an important decision for Condominium Associations. In the Drummer Boy Association, Inc. v. Britton case, the Court has ruled that ...

Read More

Protecting Condominium Associations - Collecting Unpaid Fees

The Appeals Court of Massachusetts recently restricted the 'super lien' of condominium associations over first mortgage holders for unpaid condo fees to the six months immediately preceding the filing of ...

Read More

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