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Real Estate Attorney Rhonda L. Duddy has some recommendations for streamlining the process of buying a house. They are relatively easy to carry out and should go a long way toward preventing delays and headaches associated with home buying process. Three common problem issues are discussed below. Changing jobs can lead the lender to question the buyer’s financial strength and thus alter its opinion concerning financing. This can occur even when you are leaving a job for more money. Sometimes it is better to wait. Second, switching banks during the home buying process is not recommended. This becomes an issue as lenders are required to verify available funds at various times prior to closing. Transferring funds creates a fear that the funds are subject to a loan, as opposed to being funds that you have saved. Last on the list is to refrain from changing one’s marital status. This creates issues with names on documents and identity verification concerns. Other items that may cause delays include paying off accounts during the closing process and making large purchases such as a car as these would change the buyer’s verified funds, or increase debt. For some “Terms to Know”, click here: https://www.perkinslawpc.com/images/Terms_to_Know_1.pdf

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Attorney David R. Chenelle has forwarded an article from the New York Post concerning the increase in bankruptcy on a nationwide basis. Both personal and corporate filings have been growing with some experts seeing families rely on consumer debt in order to pay bills. Increasing wages notwithstanding, food pantries are struggling to keep up with demand, particularly in communities with higher costs of living. The article with more information is here: https://nypost.com/2019/08/11/bankruptcy-filings-rising-across-the-country-and-it-could-get-worse/?utm_source=email_sitebuttons&utm_medium=site%20buttons&utm_campaign=site%20buttons

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Condominiums and community associations are subject to unpleasantness when owners are surprised by something the board of trustees has done. Whether it is implementing a fee increase or a change in pet policy, board members are in the best position when giving owners abundant warning, listening to concerns and giving opportunities for input when considering changes.  The benefits of transparency fall into political, practical and the legal categories and can be leveraged with good communication.  The New England Condominium website has an article about it (https://newenglandcondo.com/article/board-transparency-3/full) and Perkins & Anctil has answers to any questions unit owners may have. 

Please note that P&A will be providing complimentary registration to our annual Condominium Roundtable Seminar on Saturday, September 28 at the Radisson Hotel in Chelmsford where staff attorneys will be covering this and many other subjects. Register for free at Click Here for Complimentary Registration

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Homeowners’ associations and condominiums are like living organisms in some ways and undergo changes over time, some that are predictable and others that are unforeseen. A foreseeable change may be the aging of the physical plant that requires additional maintenance compared to when it was new.  This may be a time when rules about fees should change according to the documents.  Another type of change may have to do with the increasing number of units rented to tenants, the number of pets owners may want to keep, or, quite often these days, the preferences on the part of owners to prohibit smoking (tobacco or marijuana in Massachusetts).  If owners hope to change rules regarding this behavior in some way, it may be time for an amendment.  An article featured on the Newenglandcondo.com website (Available here: https://newenglandcondo.com/article/amending-your-bylaws/full) has more information.

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In the town of Plymouth, MA, a developer has learned the commonwealth had a “Policy” of not allowing age-restricted affordable housing units. After the developer’s inquiry, the Department of Housing and Community Development created a formal regulation to back up what had been merely a preference on the part of the agency. Attorney Scott Eriksen sees it as an important change, is following the developing story and recommends this article as a primer:  https://plymouth.wickedlocal.com/news/20180525/state-changes-in-55-and-older-projects-impact-plymouth-development?template=ampart

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This article was written by Scott J. Eriksen, Esq:  In May of this year, I was fortunate to attend the 2019 CAI Annual Conference and Expo in Orlando, Florida. The event bills itself as “the only event tailor-made for community association leaders and professionals,” where attendees from across the country “discover worldwide trends and issues shaping today’s community associations, managers, and management companies right now and learn how to apply new ideas and strategies as soon as [they] get home.” To read more, cut and paste the following URL: https://www.perkinslawpc.com/images/AGING_COMMUNITY_ISSUES_FROM_THE_2019_CAI_ANNUAL_By_Scott_Eriksen_Esq_.pdf

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Article written by Trial Attorney Kim Alley:  It’s called the “Grand Bargain” and was signed by Governor Charlie Baker into law in June 2018. The new Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (“PFML Act”), M.G.L. c. 175M, creates a statewide program for eligible employees to receive up to 12 weeks of paid family leave and up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave, with a maximum of 26 total family and medical leave weeks in a benefit year. To Read More, Click Here: https://www.perkinslawpc.com/images/MA_PFMLA_by_Kimberly_Alley_Esq.pdf

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Attorney Rob Anctil writes in our Spring newsletter the following piece:  On May 15, 2019, the Massachusetts Appeals Court held in Trustees of the Beechwood Village Condominium Trust v. USAlliance Federal Credit Union (“Beechwood”) that where the holder of a mortgage partially releases its construction mortgage on individual condominium units, the release acts as a discharge of the unit and the common areas of the condominium. As such, the lender’s partial release of the developer mortgage prevented the lender from exercising its rights to develop the remaining unbuilt condominium units To read more, click here: https://www.perkinslawpc.com/images/Lenders_Rights_after_Developer_Defaults_by_Robert_Anctil_Esq.pdf.pdf

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Senior Partner Charlie Perkins forwards the following news:  The Massachusetts Association of Realtors is thrilled to share with you that they have received clarification from the Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave that real estate services are exempt from the new Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) law.

On June 18, the Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave issued final regulations. However, the regulations were not explicit. Due to MAR’s continued advocacy efforts, we received clarification from the Department that real estate services are exempt from the PFML law. This exemption will apply regardless of whether a Realtor® is working as a W-2 employee in a brokerage or a 1099 contractor.

Please note, this exemption only applies to real estate licensees. Brokers will still be responsible for contributions for any unlicensed employees.

If you have any additional questions please do not hesitate to contact the MAR Legal Hotline at 1-800-370-5342.

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David R. Chenelle, Esq., a Partner and Director at Perkins & Anctil, P.C. writes in our recent newsletter: Upon filing for protection under the provisions of the United States Bankruptcy Code all creditors are immediately prohibited from instituting further collection activity against any debtor unless they receive permission to do so by order of the Bankruptcy Court.
However, when creditors choose to ignore the provisions of the automatic stay and pursue collection against a debtor in a willful, aggressive and persistent manner a Debtor, in turn, can pursue an action against the creditor for violation of the automatic stay, violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute.
Attorney Chenelle pursued a claim against a creditor for this precise reason when it violated a Debtor’s rights and willfully and persistently pursued collection against a retired Vietnam Veteran despite his discharge from his bankruptcy causing him emotional distress, embarrassment and months of aggravation.
Reprieve from creditors is an institutional component and right afforded to all Debtors through the bankruptcy process and creditors who choose to ignore that right may face consequences in the form of the payment of restitution to the Debtor and payment of legal fees and costs to the Debtor’s attorney, as was the result of the case handled by Attorney Chenelle.

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News this week that mortgage rates are approaching 4%, down from around 4.75% a year ago, has people submitting more loan applications than in recent months. Refinance applications are at a three year high, constituting around 49% of all mortgage apps, although purchase applications are also up.  In fact, the share of apps for refinances went up 7% in the last week alone.  See the Bankrate.com website or the Wall Street Journal for more information. 

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Attorney Charlie Perkins would like to make HOA, Condominium and Community Association residents aware of some tasks they can complete before a storm, things to do in case they need to evacuate, methods of maintaining communications, techniques for post-storm inspection and recommendations for cleanup.  The information comes from today's Community Associations Institute blog post on the subject which is available by following this link:  It’s hurricane season: This is what you need to do before, during, and after a disaster

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Attorney Charlie Perkins is concerned about the affects on property owners and has forwarded an update from the Community Associations Institute's Advocacy Blog.  They begin:

The partial government shutdown impacts several federal agencies and programs important to community associations. Homeowners and buyers, board members, community managers, attorneys, and other business partners may notice delays in condominium loan certification, flood insurance policy changes, drone licensing approvals, and more.  More than 90 percent of HUD staff are furloughed, halting or slowing a number of HUD functions, including condominium project certification approvals and renewals. When the shutdown ends, a delay in processing may be expected due to a backlog.

To read more, go to https://advocacy.caionline.org

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Senior Partner Charlie Perkins has received notice that the Massachusetts State Senate is considering a bill that would benefit condominium and homeowner association owners in the form of H. 4236.  The bill would change the law so that the running of the statute of limitations and statute of repose for construction defect claims against developers does not commence until the developer turns over control of the association to the unit owners.

Attorney Perkins would like Massachusetts readers to contact their state senators and the senate president to encourage the bill's passage.

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Attorney Charlie Perkins is concerned that, as property owners in a homeowners’ association or condominium, residents will not receive the federal disaster relief they deserve. This is because FEMA is of the opinion that streets in these communities are private and do not merit debris removal and other services. As a way of mitigating future problems, the Community Associations Institute (CAI) is backing the Disaster Assistance Equity Act, or H.R. 3238 which was introduced by Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina. Readers can learn more at https://blog.caionline.org/hurricane-florence-will-fema-help-your-community

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With the advent of hurricane season, condominium property managers and homeowners should take the time to review Governor Charlie Baker’s four preparedness stratagems. His office will emphasize one for each week in September: 1) Be Informed and Receive Emergency Alerts, 2) Plan for Emergencies and Disasters, 3) Build an Emergency Kit, and 4) Get Involved in community preparedness and resilience. More information is available at the MEMA website at www.mass.gov/mema. Also, readers can continue to follow MEMA updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MassEMA; Facebook at www.facebook.com/MassachusettsEMA; YouTube at www.youtube.com/MassachusettsEMA.

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Senior Partner Charlie Perkins has received notice that Massachusetts House of Representatives is considering two bills that would benefit condominium and homeowner association owners in the form of H. 4235 and H. 4236. These bills would respectively:

  1. Prevent a condominium developer from including provisions in condominium documents that make it almost impossible for the developer to be sued by the unit owners; and
  2. Change the law so that the running of the statute of limitations and statute of repose for construction defect claims against developers does not commence until the developer turns over control of the association to the unit owners.

CAI and Attorney Perkins request that readers contact Representative Theodore Speliotis, Chair Committee on Bills in Third Reading at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 617-722-2410 to express their support.

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Independent Electric, a P&A client for many years, has recently completed the job of adding solar panels to its rooftop in Somerville, MA. After examining the cost to benefit ratio, it took “All of five minutes to agree to do it because the economics were so favorable”, according to the business development manager for the installer, Sunbug Solar.  Benefits other than the financial variety include reducing the use of electricity off the grid and actually selling some power back to the utility, thereby reducing carbon emissions into the atmosphere. 

 

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Managing Partner Rob Anctil attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Inn this morning. He joined John Amaral, Partner with project developer Omni Properties and approximately 75 others to celebrate the revival of hospitality service in downtown Groton after fire claimed the Inn’s 18th century predecessor in August, 2011. Minutemen were in attendance to mark the occasion.

Attorney Rob Anctil participated in all aspects of the development from acquisition, permitting, raising equity, securing debt financing and reviewing all contracts. The Groton Inn is a truly spectacular property which we all hope will continue to serve the community for another 300 plus years. During the ribbon cutting ceremony, John acknowledged Attorney Anctil and the entire team for its efforts during the past 7 years to make this development possible.    

 Small Groton Inn

 

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The Commonwealth is set to allow recreational pot smoking in July. Given its pungent nature, the activity is likely to set neighbor against neighbor in some densely built associations - even more so than cigarette smoking did when its social acceptability was downgraded over the last decades.  Some community associations are preparing themselves by drafting amendments to their governing documents that prohibit or control pot smoking, as described in a recent Boston Globe article on the subject.  If readers have questions about how their association can deal with the issue, they should contact Attorney Scott J. Eriksen of our firm.   

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