How does Massachusetts govern the transition from developer control to unit owner control?

Answer:

Unlike many other states, Massachusetts does not regulate the timing of the transition from developer to unit owner control. Usually, however, the by-laws will provide for a “triggering event” that sets the time limit on the transition of control to a unit owner-controlled association. Quite often, the triggering event will be some combination of the amount of units sold and a specified period of time.

Because Massachusetts does not set a specific limitation on the nature of a triggering, or turnover, event, developers will often insert provisions in the Declaration of Trust that allow them to maintain control as long as possible. The courts have held that “[a]bsent overreaching or fraud by a developer,” there is “no strong public policy against interpreting [the Massachusetts Condominium Act] to permit the developer and unit owners to agree on the details of administration and management of the condominium . . . .”[i] The courts have also held that when no specific period of time for termination of developer control is provided in the condominium documents, the transitional time period is to be a “reasonable” one.

[i] Id at 326-28.

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