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


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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