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Unit Owner Violates Condominium’s Smoking Policy Resulting in Significant Fines and Ultimate Sale of Unit

Goldman & Pease represented Condominium Trustees in an action seeking to enforce the Condominium’s smoking policy against a unit owner whose smoking infiltrated the common areas of the Condominium, in violation of the Condominium’s smoking policy. We sent repeated written demand to the unit owner to cease smoking in the Condominium and advised the Trustees to levy fines for the unit owner’s continuing violation in accordance with the Condominium’s Rules and Regulations. However, when the unit owner refused to comply with the smoking policy and to pay the fines, Goldman & Pease commenced a civil action in Quincy District Court seeking to recoup payment of the outstanding fines and to enjoin the unit owner from further violating the smoking policy. After propounding extensive discovery upon the unit owner, we were able to negotiate a settlement whereby the unit owner paid the total outstanding fines and ultimately moved out of the Condominium.

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…]

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…]

Occupancy Restrictions in Condominiums

familyWhen my wife and I bought our condominium a few years ago we had only one child. Now we have three kids and our condo board says that the bylaws limit the number of people in a unit to two per bedroom. While this is not the ideal situation for our family, we cannot afford to move to a bigger home at this time. My kids are small and they don’t cause any problems. Can the board enforce this bylaw and make us sell our home?

Answer:

You are right to explore all of your rights as a condominium owner with respect to these enforcement issues. This is a complicated question without a clear cut answer.

The condominium board does have the authority to enforce any rules set forth in the condominium documents (ie the Master Deed, Declaration of Trust, Bylaws and Rules and Regulations). Therefore, if the condominium documents include an “occupancy restriction” or a limit on the number of occupants allowed to reside in each bedroom, the board has the authority to enforce it. Legitimate reasons for enacting and enforcing such a restriction are to ensure that the building septic system can handle the needs of all of its residents, and to ensure the building is in compliance with city and state building and sanitary codes. In Massachusetts, for example, 105 MCR 410:400, the state sanitary code, requires 150 square feet of living space for the first occupant and at least 100 square feet for additional occupants. [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…]