How to build a condo association by Massachusetts law

Posted on Sat, Apr 18, 2015 @ 06:28 AM

Tags: Condo & HOA Law, Massachusetts

I am looking for links to the Massachusetts requirements related to specific areas. What are the developers requirements and responsibilities during the build-out phase? Must a budget exist and be followed? Are all decisions by the trustees required to be in the interest of the association? The developer pays monthly condo fees on units not yet sold, when does that start and can they be waived?

Massachusetts condo board votes on role of absent trustee

Posted on Sun, Apr 12, 2015 @ 06:55 AM

Tags: Condo Association & HOA Meetings, Condo & HOA Elections, Massachusetts

This past week, on Thursday, the chairperson of our condo association board called a meeting to be held the following night at 7 PM. An agenda was distributed for that meeting, and three of the seven board members indicated that they could not attend. The meeting was held anyway. At the meeting, the four members who were able to attend held a vote (that was not on the agenda provided) to change the role of one of the board members who was not in attendance, and informed the entire board of the change by email immediately following the meeting. Our condo Declaration of Trust specifically requires that ". . . meetings may be called by the Chairman and in such other manner as the Trustees establish; provided, however, that written notice of each meeting stating the place, day and hour thereof shall be given at least four days before such meeting to each member of the Board of Trustees. One-half of the number of Trustees shall constitute a quorum at all meetings, and such meetings shall be conducted in accordance with such rules as the Board of Trustees may adopt." Clearly 4 days notice was not given. The board has never established a process that overrides this section of the Trust. When told that the meeting and vote were not valid, the chairperson decided that the vote would stand and that the board would move forward as if the vote is valid. Is the meeting and vote valid? This condo is in Braintree, MA if that helps

Massachusetts condo neighbors fight over needed repairs in common areas

Posted on Thu, Apr 2, 2015 @ 07:45 AM

Tags: Property Damage & Repairs, Common Area Issues, Massachusetts

I own a condominium unit in Massachusetts. The property is a one, 2-story residential building that was a single gut rehab converted into 2 condo units in 2011.  My unit consists of the lower level and 1st floor and my condo neighbor’s unit consists of the 2nd & 3rd floors. We are both the Trustees of the condominium. I have a 55% interest in the common areas and the other Trustee has a 45% interest in the common areas. Trustee action requires unanimous vote (i.e., both of us must agree). Trustees obligations include maintenance and repair of common elements. With respect to maintenance and repair of common elements, such expenses shall be assessed to the unit owners as a common expense. Reserve funds can be used for repairs but only with the agreement of both of us. The reserve fund is suppose to be held in a separate account, but we only have one account.

In October my condo neighbor put their unit up for sale, and in January my condo neighbor informed me it was discovered during an inspection from potential buyers that there was a ventilation issue in an area which is only accessible via my condo neighbor’s unit and that there was severe frost on the roof sheathing. The area is not designated on the Condo Master Plan or mentioned specifically in the Condo Documents. I'm pretty sure it would be considered the "attic", and therefore a common area. There is no mention of "limited common areas" in the Condo Documents, but could an area that is only accessible via my condo neighbor's unit be considered a "common area"?

My condo neighbor supposedly had an insulation specialist, a ventilation specialist and mold remediation company out to the property to inspect the “attic” all before telling me about this issue. The mold remediation company discovered mold on the roof sheathing, which I do know is a common area. I asked for the insulation report and ventilation report but never received either.

When I called the company my condo neighbor said they had out they had no record of coming out to the property, also the ventilation specialist my condo neighbor claimed came out wasn’t a ventilation specialist but only a contractor. I never received their report either. Further, my condo neighbor told me the potential buyers had an attic ventilation specialist come out by the name of X but my condo neighbor told me not to call him because his quote and scope of work was expensive and he wanted to knock down the drywall in my condo neighbor's unit/bedroom. Also my condo neighbor got very angry when I said I'd like to have a ventilation specialist come out and said to me "You don't need to do that!". It's also been very difficult for me to gain access this area/"attic". My condo neighbor was dictating when I could have access to the area and stating that I could only have repair men out before 8 am or after 6 pm on Tuesdays or Thursdays. I can't tell you how many people I called to try to get out either that early or late and then when I finally did find someone and told my condo neighbor they made it difficult stating they would have to be here exactly at 7:45 and that they could only stay for 15 minutes or a half and hour because my condo neighbor had a conference call.

If this is a common area and I'm a Trustee then I'm not sure how my condo neighbor thinks they can dictate these unreasonable hours and times I can only have access to the area? I’m assuming there should be some right of usage/easement rights especially for repairs? I was able to obtain the report from the attic ventilation specialist my condo neighbors potential buyers had out to the property as well as some information from the Town Code Inspector and a report from another mold remediation company I was able to get out one day. The problem is that the soffit vents are blocked with insulation and there is no raffle baffles installed, so there is inadequate ventilation and this has caused the mold since the moisture is condensing on the cold roof sheathing in the winter and not ventilating out through the ridge/gable vents. My condo neighbor never shared this information with me and I'm positive she had the report from the attic ventilation specialist that her potential buyers had out. I had to pay to get a copy of this report. Regarding the repairs that need to be done my condo neighbor is not willing to remove the drywall in their bedroom, and take out the insulation, then replace the drywall. That is the only way the soffit ventilation can be accessed and repaired. The walls in my condo neighbor’s bedroom are sloped walls that follow the roof line and then there are also knee walls. I believe the sloped wall/drywall is considered part of my condo neighbor's unit and isn’t considered a common area or common wall, I’m also not sure if the insulation behind the drywall is considered a common area or not. I think it depends on exactly where the insulation is installed because our units consists of the interior face of the wall studs or wall strapping of each unit. There was another option that was presented by the mold remediation company and that was we could add mechanical air (a powered attic fan) to help with adding additional ventilation. Personally, I see really no way to fix this issue properly without drywall removal and replacement, but a mold remediation company offers a 6-year warranty with a powered attic fan added, so, I’m willing to try that first. I may be here for a while before I sell and have a long-term interest in the property compared to my neighbor who is looking to sell immediately. My condo neighbor said they are fine with using the mold remediation company I want to use. I told my condo neighbor they have to sign the contract and we have to add the fan but my condo neighbor is stating now they have some concerns with the powered fan and who will be responsible for monitoring it and which unit it will be wired to. I told my neighbor we would either have to get a common panel installed and the fan could be wired to that or it would have to be wired to their unit since I don't have access to monitor the fan. My condo neighbor doesn't want to add a common panel because that would be too expensive for them, but my neighbor isn't willing to address the fan issue either and keeps telling me it can be discussed at a later date. The fan would only cost us about $15 to run from Nov 1 to April 1. My condo neighbor really keeps pushing and telling me they want to schedule the mold remediation and we can talk about the fan later, but I’ve tried to explain to my condo neighbor that we have to come to an agreement because we can’t just remediate the mold and not fix the underlying issue, or else the mold will only come back, so we have to come to an agreement about the fan or the soffit vents being fixed too and that money for that repair needs to be collected beforehand as well. My concern is that my condo neighbor would like to just schedule the mold remediation, deplete the condo account, and then give me a difficult time when it comes time to fix the underlying issue and adding the fan and not allow access to the area. The last thing I want is for the mold to be removed then to come back because the underlying issue was not fixed. All my condo neighbor seems to be concerned about is remediating the mold and then selling as quick as possible. I've told her that we have to collect the funds for the repairs first and also get some estimates from electricians but she seems to have no desire to do that and isn't addressing that with me. My condo neighbor also wants to use all of the money in the condo account to pay for the mold remediation. The condo account doesn’t have enough in the account to pay for the entire mold remediation and add the fan. Additionally we have a water bill, and insurance bill due in June for the prior 3 months, and other repairs that need to be done. There is only 3k in the condo account. I was advised not to use anything from the account given the additional repairs. I told my condo neighbor this and she keeps insisting that we will use all of the money in the account and it's not my decision only. Mind you my condo neighbor is the one dictating things and not willing to negotiate. Clearly my condo neighbor just wants to deplete the account so they don't have to pay out of pocket, and then not address the other repairs. I've mentioned we have $15,000 in repairs and upcoming bills but my condo neighbor keeps hisses back "We should not be discussing the other repairs" and seems clueless about the other repairs that need to be done even though they are obvious and we have discussed them in the past. Within a year of moving into the condo the exterior paint started peeling all off the house – so the entire exterior house needs to be painted and those estimates are about 8k, mortar is falling down from the chimney, and water is coming in from the chimney because the damper is not sealed properly and that is starting to damage my unit - those repairs are 1k. Then we have a broken window and our snow blower needs to be repaired - that shouldn't be too expensive, and then of course we have the mold remediation which will be about 3k and the electrical fan which should be a few hundred. If anything, it seems we need to add more money to the kitty for all these additional repairs and have an assessment or special assessment. However if we are both Trustees nothing in regards to special assessments, use of funds, maintenance, repair, etc. can be done without 100% of the vote...so I'm not even sure how to go about a special assessment when my condo neighbor isn't willing to address the other repairs.

The condo documents states that the Trustees shall not, in any event, be obligated to proceed with any repair unless they have received the funds and determined the assessment to be made for the next fiscal year. The documents go on to say in the even that an annual assessment is not made as above required an assessment shall be presumed to have been made in the amount of the last prior assessment. - The only thing we have is a budget for the condo that was setup back in 2011 and only $500 dollars was allocated towards repairs... Also, my concern is if we have visible mold in the attic, I’m concerned we probably also have mold in the area where the airflow is most restricted (the sloped ceiling in my condo neighbors bedroom) and that should probably be tested as well, but I doubt my condo neighbor will allow for exploratory holes to be drilled in her drywall for testing... My condo neighbor is also in charge of paying the bills and keeping the accounting of the trust. I've asked her on numerous occasions to see the books and she has ignored my requests. I have a right upon request to inspect the books. Based of the accounting I was able to pull together she has been late paying our water, sewer and trash bills and has taken those late fees out of the condo trust, and she is also not up to date with her condo fees. Also, in the event of disagreement of the trustees, the trustees must go to arbitration if issues not resolved within 30 days after written demand.

Do votes by email for Massachusetts condo and HOA boards count?

Posted on Wed, Apr 1, 2015 @ 05:46 AM

Tags: Board of Directors, Condo & HOA Law, CCR, Bylaws & Rules, Massachusetts

Many states prohibit condo/HOA boards from taking votes via email. Does anyone know if this is true in Massachusetts? I looked through the Massachusetts General Laws 183A and couldn't find a reference to this issue.

Massachusetts Condo Association dealing with more snow removal issues

Posted on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 @ 08:00 AM

Tags: Board of Directors, CCR, Bylaws & Rules, Massachusetts

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I live in a 10 unit Massachusetts Condo Association in Boston. The owner of the top floor condo unit has exclusive rights to the roof deck.

Who is responsible for removal of snow from the deck, the condo unit owner or the Condo Association?

Garden-level condo units facing major problems in Massachusetts Condo Association

Posted on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 @ 08:00 AM

Tags: Board of Directors, Condo & HOA Law, CCR, Bylaws & Rules, Massachusetts

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My Massachusetts Condo Association has a dangerous snow issue blocking several condo units. The units are ground-floor/semi-garden, with sunken living room and all else on the first floor, and have snow almost to the top of every window (some from snow blowing, some from natural occurrence and drifting.

Is this a fire safety issue, since the only means of egress is the main exit door, which has 8-foot snow banks blocking patio?

Regarding removal of the snow, the Board suggested paying the snow removal team extra money to shovel out our condensers, which are all individually owned.  I’m guessing payment for snow removal around individual condo units is not out of the realm of their thinking. Further, there is nothing stated in our documents that addresses this issue.

Should the issue of snow removal be dealt with by the Board and paid from condominium funds, since there are 12 condo units facing the same situation?

Massachusetts Condo Association facing major issues with ice dams

Posted on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 @ 08:00 AM

Tags: Budgets & Finance, Property Damage & Repairs, Board of Directors, CCR, Bylaws & Rules, Massachusetts

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I live in a (very snowy) Massachusetts Condo Association.

With all of the recent snow, I am concerned that ice dams building up the roof will lead to interior water damage when the snow begins to melt. I’ve taken care of the ice dams on my roof and gutters. However, my neighbors have neglected to do so, which could result in water damage to my condo since our units are adjacent to one another.

Our Board of Directors, who are typically very responsive, have not been treating this issue with the urgency it deserves. If not dealt with proactively, this issue can quickly lead to major damage upon thawing temperatures, which are in the near forecast!

How can I ensure that action is taken before it is too late?

Do property managers work for the Board, condo owners, or both?

Posted on Mon, Jan 26, 2015 @ 08:00 AM

Tags: Property Management, Condo Association Management, Board of Directors, Condo & HOA Law, CCR, Bylaws & Rules, Disabilities & Owner Rights, Massachusetts

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I am a condo owner in a Massachusetts Condo Association.

The Association is having difficulties with a secretive and controlling Board of Directors, as they are insular and regard challenges to their decisions as threatening and insulting. The condo owners are in no way rude or out of control, they are merely seeking information.

An attempt was made to have our Condo Association property manager intercede, but they are claiming that they work for the Board and not the condo owners. If this is true, who works or advocates for condo owners?

Advice would be appreciated!

Should minor condo unit projects require special assessment fees?

Posted on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

Tags: Condo & HOA Assessments, Property Damage & Repairs, Condo Reserves, Board of Directors, Fees, Foreclosures, Delinquencies & Collections, Massachusetts

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All condo owners in my Massachusetts Condo Association were recently charged a Special Assessment Fee of $35.00. This charge was to cover the expense of placing a plastic cage over dryer vents, and was labeled ‘bird mitigation’. The total collected was $2500.00.

It is my understanding that Special Assessments are for Capital Improvements, not for small projects that can easily be paid for through regular funds. As well, I was told by a Board member that the main reason for the charge was to ‘get even’ with another condo owner who had called the Board of Health because her neighboring condo unit was placing bird seed all over the floor of his patio.

Our Annual Meeting is coming up soon, and I would like to bring up a possible refund on this ridiculous charge. I’ve researched this on my own, but can’t seem to locate the rule on when assessments can be made, so am asking for help in this matter. Thank you in advance.

Disabled condo owner troubled by Association's lack of accomodation

Posted on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

Tags: Condo Association Management, Parking Issues, CCR, Bylaws & Rules, Disabilities & Owner Rights, Massachusetts

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I live in a Massachusetts Condo Association with deeded parking. I’m handicapped and disabled with severe pain and weakness, and am nearly home bound. I’ve hired help to clear off my car after a snowfall. In order for the plow to remove snow from the parking lot, it is necessary for my car to be moved to a visitors’ spot that would have already been cleared. However, the condo association has refused my request on multiple occasions, citing that I must follow the same rules as other condo association members.

Mustn’t they provide for this accommodation? Is there potential for suit here, given that this could be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act?