Airbnb Legislative Update: Massachusetts’ New Rules

By: Howard S. Goldman, Esq.* –

Airbnb – you either love it or you hate it. With roughly 1 in 10 U.S. adults using short-term accommodations, their popularity is undeniable. And for the millions who vacation in Massachusetts each year, short-term rental sites offer a wide range of price points in a state notorious for its lack of mid-priced accommodations at premier tourist draws: Boston, Cape Cod, and the Berkshires.

But other populations are decidedly less enamored by the ascent of Airbnb: condominiums, abutters and the hotel industry. At Goldman & Pease we regularly help condominium associations, property managers and management companies faced with refereeing a new breed of disputes.  Additionally, abutters to the roof deck that is rented out for bachelorette gatherings each weekend and the condominium owner sandwiched between two downtown Airbnbs have had lots to complain about. In short, some are winning and some are clearly losing in this new rental accommodation landscape.

Strict Registration Requirements

Massachusetts’ new laws regulating short-term rentals became fully effective on December 1, 2019, and define short-term rentals as accommodations rented out more than 14 days per calendar year at more than $15/day. The new laws require short-term rental owners and intermediaries like Airbnb to register online with the Mass. Department of Revenue by providing proof of residency and adequate insurance through various documentation, paying certain annual licensing fees, getting a business certificate, notifying neighbors and, once an owner has accomplished all that, adding the registration number to on-line intermediary sites such as Airbnb to prove that the accommodations are properly registered.  These registration requirements make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to establish a state-wide registry. [Read more…]

New England Condominium – How Will Your Community Be Affected?

Attorney Howard Goldman was quoted extensively in the the New England Condominium article “Legal & Legislative Update 2019 – How Will Your Community Be Affected?

 

By A.J. Sidranksy | New England Condominium

Laws, and the legal decisions that support and enforce them, are constantly evolving and can affect every facet of community life in HOAs, condominiums and co-ops. While law and legal cases can emanate from any of our three levels of government – federal, state or local – most of the developments that affect housing come from the bottom up, with local and state law often defining or redefining what co-op, condo, HOA, and even owners of rental housing may and may not do within the law.

Much of the legislation and case law pertaining to housing derives from the federal Fair Housing Act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968 around the time of the civil rights movement. The law exists primarily to protect against race-based discrimination in housing, but it has gone on to represent and promote a much broader range of principles.

Aside from non-discrimination, housing law and legislation also deal with safety, equity, and the ability of local governments to tax real estate owners. This type of legislation and specific case law more than likely originates at the local and state level. Often as a result, individual statutes and cases apply to specific localities. A decision handed down in a New York court may not affect communities in Massachusetts, though a similar case could result in a similar decision in more than one locale. Similarly, a statute may apply to a co-op or condo in one city and not in the neighboring one, resulting in different requirements literally a few miles apart. [Read more…]

Shared Living in the Small Condominium Setting: Rights and Obligations of Unit Owners and Trustees

By Howard Goldman –

With the rising cost of real estate and lack of affordable housing in many communities, people are searching for ways to maximize their investment through shared living. Whether it be by including an in-law suite for an aging parent, a basement apartment for a long-term tenant or sprucing up a guest room to rent via AirBnB, many homeowners are embracing shared living as the way of the future.

Room for rentShared living arrangements provide many benefits to individual homeowners but may be bothersome to neighbors who are worried about health and safety, parking, and security risks. These concerns are compounded in the condominium setting where there are so many people living in a condensed area.

Recently, Goldman & Pease has handled a number of disputes arising out of shared living arrangements in smaller condominiums that are self-managed.  This article will discuss issues related to shared living arrangements in the condominium context and the rights and obligations of unit owners and trustees with respect to striking a balance between allowing unit owners freedom to use their homes as they see fit and protecting the condominium community from the risks associated with certain shared living arrangements. [Read more…]

June 14, 2017 – Legal Update Lunch Seminar

LEGAL UPDATE LUNCH SEMINAR
 MEDIATE MANAGEMENT CO.

Date: Wednesday, 10:30a.m. June 14, 2017

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?

[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…]

Choosing An Attorney For Your Association

NE-Condo

 

By Michael Odenthal | New England Condominium

Not every condominium or homeowners’ association is going to run afoul of the law—the happy truth is that litigation and legal trouble are relatively rare occurrences. But even the most upstanding board of trustees in New England must navigate a labyrinth of community association rules in order to best serve its ownership, and the odds are that its trusty group of volunteers will consist of few, if any, qualified legal professionals.

So what to do in order to ensure that an association’s business remains on the up-and-up? Hiring one of the aforementioned legal eagles would be a good start, sure, but how best do you ascertain which attorney or firm is ideal to guide your association right and true?  Turns out, choosing a legal pro isn’t so different from choosing any other kind of service provider your HOA might need—even if the stakes are somewhat higher. [Read more…]

Condominium Unit Rental Restrictions and Bans: Pros, Cons and Considerations

By: Howard S. Goldman, Esq. and Rebecca A. Erlichman, Esq.

The issue of how to handle condominium unit rentals is one that remains relevant to all condominium associations. It is up to the condominium association to protect the interests of all of the unit owners – both those who want to avoid an undue concentration of tenants to protect the character of the community and those who wish to rent out their units.

CondosThere are pros and cons to allowing rentals. Tenants are more likely to abuse common areas and amenities, violate condominium association rules, and be less conscientious caretakers of the units they occupy as compared to homeowners. A large concentration of tenants will significantly change the nature of a condominium community and could potentially lower the market price and affect the ability of owners to refinance. On the other hand, however, certain condominium unit owners value the ability to rent out units as a financial investment and want the flexibility of being able to rent out the unit during a short term geographical relocation.

Whether the condominium association chooses to ban rentals altogether, or allows them, it is clear that the bylaws should containing language pertaining to rentals to clarify the rules and avoid conflict. This article will discuss a number of factors condominium associations should consider with respect to updating its bylaws to address the issue of tenants.

Condominium Associations Have Authority to Implement New Rules on Rentals

In general, condominium associations have broad latitude to create rules and regulations intended to better the community. These broad powers emerge from the basic notion of condominium ownership: in exchange for the benefits of association with one’s neighbors, an owner “must give up a certain degree of freedom of choice which he might otherwise enjoy in separate, privately owned property.” Where use restrictions are placed on unit owners, such measures of control must be contained within the condominium’s master deed or by-laws and not its rules and regulations. Johnson v. Keith, 368 Mass. 316, 320 (1975); M.G.L. 183A § 8(g) (requiring that restrictions on the use of condominium buildings be contained within the master deed); M.G.L. 183A § 11(e) (requiring that use restrictions not detailed in the master deed be contained in the by-laws). See Granby Heights Association, Inc. v. Dean, 38 Mass. App. Ct. 266 (1995) (where a condominium rule against pets was ruled invalid because it was not contained within the by-laws or master deed). [Read more…]