Drones Take Off: What Condo Leaders Need to Know

By:  Howard S. Goldman, Esq.

I. Introduction

droneDrones are no longer the military robots or science fiction creations that we once imagined them to be. In fact, in 2016, according to the Consumer Technology Association, an estimated 3 million drones were purchased for use by hobbyists and businesses alike. Non-military drones are generally used either commercially or by hobbyists. All drone usage is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, but hobbyists are only required to obtain a $5 registration, and can be as young as 13 years old. Businesses operating small drones are regulated by stricter standards.

II. Drones and the Law: An Overview

The FAA’s rules regulating drone usage are known as “part 107”. Under part 107, all drones must be registered if they weigh between .55 and 55 lbs. Drones over 55 lbs. must be registered through the FAA’s Aircraft Registry.

In Massachusetts, commercial drone operators must be 17 years old, be certified to fly a drone by the FAA, stay out of airport space and other controlled airspace, operate during daylight hours only, fly no more than 400 feet above the ground at no more than 100 miles per hour, and not fly over any person not directly involved in flying the drone.

Several federal bills have been proposed to help regulate drone usage. These have all been within the privacy rights and expectations of privacy guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment, and would create a much stricter standard for everyday drone usage. [Read more…]

Condominium Insurance: Waiver of Subrogation

I. Introduction

water-condoImagine arriving home to your condominium after a long day of work, opening the door to your unit, and being confronted with several inches of standing water. You enter your unit to the sound of dripping and look up to see that the ceiling in your living room is completely saturated with water. Upon further investigation, you discover that a leaking water supply valve in your upstairs neighbor’s unit has caused the serious water damage.

Who is responsible for the costs to repair the damage?

II. Condominium Insurance

Condominium ownership is unique in that it involves competing interests in real estate. Each condominium unit owner enjoys complete ownership of his or her unit and a shared interest, along with all of the other unit owners, in the condominium building and common areas. Typically, a portion of each unit owner’s monthly condo fee is used to pay for the condominium association’s insurance policy, which covers the condominium building, commonly owned property and liability insurance for the association (“Master Policy”).

However, the Master Policy does not usually cover damage to the interior of a unit. The Master Policy typically doesn’t cover damage to the unit owner’s personal possessions and liability for damage to other units .

Many unit owners, therefore, elect to purchase a separate insurance policy – often referred to as an H06 policy – which covers losses to any personal property and any structure and damages to any fixtures or upgrades added by the unit owner since the move-in date (“H06 Policy”).

In fact, more and more condominium associations have amended their By-laws to require each unit owner to purchase an H06 Policy in order to ensure that the unit owner will be reimbursed for damage to the unit, regardless of fault. Requiring unit owners to purchase an individual H06 Policy for the unit is especially beneficial in the scenario where the cost to repair damage to an individual unit is less than the deductible on the Master Policy. [Read more…]

March 18, 2017 – CAI seminar

Attorney Howard Goldman is speaking at a CAI seminar on March 18, 2017 regarding roles and responsibilities of unit owners, managers, and trustees in connection with corporate governance in condos.

Community Association Volunteer Leadership Training

March 18 2017  – March 18 2017   8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Hampton Inn – Natick, MA
$75.00 Members*
$135.00 Non-Members*
Registration and more info: visit website

The new CAI Board Leadership Development Workshop teaches you how to communicate with association residents, hire qualified managers and service providers, develop enforceable rules, interpret governing documents and more.

The full-day workshop will teach you how to become a more successful board member and how you can recruit and support new volunteers.

Module 1: Governing Documents and Roles & Responsibilities
Module 2: Communications, Meetings and Volunteerism
Module 3: Fundamentals of Financial Management
Module 4: Professional Advisors and Service Providers
Module 5: Association Rules and Conflict Resolution

Course Materials

The workshop includes a toolbox of support materials:
The Board Member Toolkit book and workbook
Brochures and Publications
CAI’s magazines Common Ground and Condo Media

Directions:
319 Speen St
Natick, MA

Unit Owner Voting

Question:  

For the annual meeting, there are seven people running for five positions. The management company sent a proxy to all owners and requested that it either be mailed to them or dropped in the mailbox in the building lobby. This mailbox is accessed by current board members and items reviewed. Is this ethical to have those members who are on the ballot, receiving them and reviewing them before the meeting?

Answer:

ballot-box           Unit owner voting at annual or specially held meetings is subject to various rules and regulations.  Chief among the regulations is that a quorum, being a majority of all unit owners, must participate in order to have a binding resolution. Obtaining the quorum is difficult due to unit owner apathy, and to overcome this, the condo documents permit voting by proxy.  But the proxy documentation should be authenticated by either signature of an attesting witness and/or by notarization.  Such proxies should be of a limited duration and may authorize voting on the unit owner’s behalf for any and all matters (i.e. vote on all matters presented) or be restricted to vote on a specific matter only (i.e. vote for candidate X).

The question posited does not disclose whether the completed proxies are general or specific in nature, whether a specific person is designated to vote on behalf of the unit owner, or whether such proxies have been authorized by a unit owner or by a notary public.  Regardless, Associations are active, functioning governing bodies that must be flexible for requirements of its unit owner members to facilitate decision making, such as “dropping off the proxy at the mail box.”   Such drop-off process would be aided by adding ‘Confidential/For Management Only” and delivered in a sealed envelope.  Board elections can be contentious and personal, so Associations would be well advised to designate the management company to act as the independent party to directly oversee election results.

Required Deleading in Condominiums and Rental Properties

What Owners, Landlords, and Property Managers Need to Know

By: Howard S. Goldman, Esq.

While lead-based paint, having been banned in 1978, may seem like a distant memory for most of us, the presence of lead-based paint in older condominiums and apartment buildings poses some very real challenges for landlords and property managers today. The state and federal laws with respect to lead-based paint set up a strict set of rules for residential property owners and managers which must be adhered to closely in order to avoid large fines and other potential legal ramifications.

hazardThe lead-based paint laws (“Lead Laws”) require that lead paint hazards must be remediated in residences built before 1978 if a child under six years old lives there. The process of lead remediation (“deleading”) requires that a certified lead inspector perform an evaluation of the residence and thereafter certain discovered lead paint hazards must be deleaded in accordance with the Lead Laws. The remedy varies depending on the type of surface that is found to contain lead and the concentration of lead on that surface. Not all lead paint requires deleading. In general, surfaces which are impacted, such as window sills and door frames, along with surfaces that can be accessed by a small child must be deleaded only if the lead concentration is higher than 1.0 mg/cm2. Lead hazards on other surfaces, such as metal or those which are impossible to be accessed by children, only need to be made intact so that paint chips and dust do not contaminate the residence— for these no deleading is required.

These requirements pose a variety of problems for property owners and managers. In addition to the requirements of deleading, the Lead Laws also prevent any landlord or property manager from evicting or refusing to rent to a family that has a child under the age of six. This provision was added to the law to prevent housing discrimination. Landlords who are found to be in violation of this provision can be subjected to significant financial penalties. [Read more…]

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 – IREM Seminar

Traps for the Unwary Property Manager

Wednesday, October 26, 2016
8:30 am – 11:30 pm
Register Today  or call 617-436-7565

Location:
The Simon Companies  Office
639 Granite Street
Lower Level Conference Room,
Braintree, MA

SEMINAR DESCRIPTION:

Sponsored by IREM Boston Metropolitan Chapter No. 4 and

The law firm of Goldman & Pease LLC Led by Attorneys Howard S. Goldman and Cameron C. Pease of Goldman & Pease, LLC, this seminar will address common pitfalls that property managers should avoid in managing their properties and suggest helpful ways to avoid and correct these mistakes.

The seminar will draw on recent, real-world Massachusetts cases where landlords or property managers have been held liable or responsible. Attorneys Goldman and Pease will analyze these cases in an interactive format with the seminar participants and discuss what steps the landlord or property manager could have taken to avoid and/or minimize liability.

Moreover, this seminar will help both new and experienced property managers spot key legal issues and protect themselves and their clients. [Read more…]

Saturday, October 8, 2016 – Boston Asian Landlord Association

ESTATE PLANNING FOR THE REAL ESTATE OWNER

 

  1. BASICS OF ESTATE PLANNING

    1. What is estate planning?
    2. Is estate planning for everyone; who needs an estate plan?
    3. When is the right time to begin estate planning and what factors contribute this this decision?

 

  1. MINIMIZING ESTATE TAX LIABILITY

    1. What is the estate tax, what does it tax, and who will pay it?
    2. How do you pass assets to your surviving spouse to minimize tax liability?
    3. What is the significance of the $1,000,000 MA estate tax exemption and the $5,450,000 Federal estate tax exemption?
    4. What is a QTip (qualified terminable interest trust) or marital trust and how can it decrease your tax liability?
    5. How can annual gifts of up to $14,000 to friends and family reduce your tax liability?
    6. What should you consider when thinking about leaving a portion of your estate to charity?
    7. How can you exclude life insurance proceeds from the taxable estate?

[Read more…]

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 – Crowninshield Management Corporation

Presented by: Goldman & Pease LLC

  1. APARTMENT OR CONDOMINIUM SHARING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AIRBNB

  • What are the security risks, nuisances, and property damage that result from engaging an Airbnb rental?
  • What are the best practices for avoiding problems that neighbors and property managers frequently encounter when tenants or condo unit owners use Airbnb.com?

 

  1. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS: ARE THEY REALLY INDEPENDENT?

  • When does the law define your independent contractor as an employee?
  • What are the penalties for misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor?

[Read more…]

Goldman & Pease Recognized For 15 Years of Service

Howard Goldman and Cameron Pease were honored at the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber’s Members Appreciation Night held at the Needham Sheraton Hotel. The annual event recognizes Chamber members with significant membership anniversaries. Goldman & Pease were recognized for 15 years of membership and service in the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber.

Award-2016

Estate Planning – Is it for you?

By Howard S. Goldman, Esq.

Some people think that estate planning is only for wealthy individuals subject to large taxes. But minimizing estate tax liability is only one reason for estate planning. Consider these six additional reasons for completing an estate plan:

1. Determining who shall receive a share of your assets;
2. Deciding how and when your beneficiaries shall receive their inheritance;
3. Selecting an executor for your estate and a guardian for your children:
4. Providing for the orderly continuance or sale of your family business;
5. Creating a living trust; and,
6. Planning in case of your permanent disability.

In the absence of a valid executed will, state laws determine who inherits your assets and when they receive them. Further, the Probate Court will appoint a guardian for your children and an administrator for your estate. Accordingly, your wishes will not control disposition of your own estate and your estate may incur unnecessary taxes and administrative costs. [Read more…]