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The following article was written by Dawn Bauman of Community Associations Institute and comes as recommended reading from our senior partner Charlie Perkins:

Condominiums and housing cooperatives must meet updated structural safety requirements to secure loans for mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The government-sponsored enterprises released new guidance in late 2021 after the partial collapse of Champlain Tower South in Surfside, Fla., in June, generated concerns about aging infrastructure and deferred maintenance.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac secure loans for mortgages issued by credit unions, banks, and other financial institutions. The updated requirements apply to condominiums and cooperatives that contain five or more attached units. The new requirements are in addition to, and do not supersede, any of the previous lending conditions.

Community association board members and managers are expected to gather details and prepare reports to share with appraisers and lenders.

Freddie Mac

In December, Freddie Mac released guidance related to property eligibility and appraisal requirements for condominiums and cooperatives in need of critical repairs as well as buildings with special assessments. The guidance goes into effect Feb. 28.

Buildings in need of critical repairs will be no longer be eligible for Freddie Mac-backed loans. Mortgage providers are expected to determine compliance with the new requirements.

Freddie Mac is not changing its stance on community association reserves; it will continue to allow new buildings with less than 10% in reserve funds to secure loans if the most current reserve study is provided. It also is requiring documentation that at least 95% of any special assessments budgeted are being collected.

Fannie Mae

The new requirements, released in October, went into effect Jan. 1. They include:

  • Unsafe conditions: Building projects that have received a directive from a regulatory authority or inspection agency to make repairs due to unsafe conditions will be ineligible until such repairs are made.
  • Significant deferred maintenance: Buildings with deficiencies that meet one or more of the following criteria will be ineligible:
    • Buildings that require at least seven days of full or partial evacuation to complete necessary repairs.
    • Buildings with damage, deficiencies, or defects severe enough to affect safety, soundness, or structural integrity; and/or those where substantial repairs and rehabilitation are required; and/or those where one or more of the major structural or mechanical elements (such as the foundation, roof, load-bearing structures, plumbing, electrical system, or HVAC) are impeded.
  • Special assessments: All current or new special assessments will be reviewed for acceptability under the following criteria:
    • Reason for the special assessment.
    • Assessment amount and repayment terms.
    • Demonstration of no negative impact to financial stability, viability, condition, or marketability.
  • Reserves requirements: Ten percent budget reserves are required, regardless of reserve study assessments (and in addition to any special assessments that may be in place).

These requirements place a heavy focus on structural and financial stability. Documentation also is important; community associations must carefully maintain and make available to appraisers and lenders all pertinent paperwork (appraisals, most recent six months of meeting minutes, financial statements, engineering reports, inspection reports, and reserve studies). Review the full Fannie Mae requirements.

CAI is working with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on educating communities about the new requirements to secure loans for mortgages issued by credit unions, banks, and other financial institutions. CAI also is engaging with management companies and attorneys to further advise our members on high-rise safety.

>> For additional resources, visit www.caionline.org/CondoSafety.

 

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Written by Attorney Charles A. Perkins

COVID-19 and its variants have been at the forefront of concerns for condominium associations for the past twenty-two months. However, anyone involved in the industry should be aware of other concerns in the form of changes recently announced in a statement issued by Fannie Mae.

Fannie Mae has notified lenders of new/updated requirements it has implemented that will impact the financing eligibility of condominium and certain co-op projects. These new requirements may come as no surprise to some considering the tragic collapse of the Champlain South Tower in Surfside Florida earlier this year. The problem, however, is the method that will be utilized to assist banks and other institutions with making their lending determinations.

The changes announced by Fannie Mae include a list of specific disclosures required as part of the process to determine loan eligibility. This information will be vetted through questionnaires requesting information relative to special assessments, deferred maintenance, and information on code violations. Answering these questions may or may not be something that board members and managers can, or should, do, and we recommend that all associations proceed with caution when completing these questionnaires. 

If you would like additional information, utilize this link for more information about the latest announcement from Fannie Mae. Fannie Mae Lender Letter (LL-2021-14)

If you have any questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact our office for assistance.

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Senior Partner Charlie Perkins forwards this post form the Community Associations Institute blog and would like readers to ask members of Congress to support H.R. 5298:

Community Associations Institute is pleased to announce the introduction of bipartisan legislation that expands access to FEMA disaster assistance to community associations. We are writing to ask you to contact your Member of Congress to urge them to cosponsor this legislation that helps community associations with disaster recovery efforts. 

About the Disaster Assistance Equity Act
The Disaster Assistance Equity Act will correct current inequities in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster response system. Under the current law, community associations affected by a presidentially declared natural disaster—blizzard, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, hurricane, or tornado—are NOT given the same FEMA financial recovery support for debris removal and other efforts as their neighbors.

  • Condominiums & Housing Cooperatives:  If this bill passes, individual owners in condominiums and housing cooperatives will be reimbursed for their fair share of repair or replacement of critical major common area elements like boiler rooms, elevators, roofs, etc.
  • Homeowners Associations:  If this bill passes, homeowners associations with privately-owned roads will be able to rely upon the locality (city, county, town, etc.) to remove debris from the private roads resulting in huge savings for association residents.   

Residents and taxpayers just like you, living in community associations pay the same federal taxes as residents living in non-deed restricted neighborhoods. The current system is flawed and unfair, but this legislation recognizes and improves these inequities for the 74 million people living in community associations. Click here to read the full bill text.  For a link to the CAI blog post, click below:

 

H.R 5298 — The Disaster Assistance Equity Act of 2021

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Written by Charles A. Perkins, Esquire

On June 22, 2021, a portion of the Champlain Tower South in Surfside, Florida, collapsed and caused substantial destruction, loss of life and was a tragedy that impacted hundreds of people. This event has galvanized leaders across the nation including lawmakers and members of the condominium industry and has brought to the forefront the need to reevaluate certain practices to implement changes to help prevent a tragedy like this from occurring again.

Community Association Institute (CAI) published the Condominium Safety Public Policy Report in October 2021.[1] This publication by CAI is a must read for all those in the condominium industry. There are many individuals and groups who contributed their insight and recommendations to this report which could lead to substantial changes in the way condominiums operate throughout the country. An example of the topics discussed in this report include the following:

  1. Mandatory reserve studies during the pre-construction, active construction, and post-construction phases. It is recommended that these studies be performed by a reserve specialist or other qualified individual.
  2. The authority for a board to fund projects for safety improvements without a vote of the unit owners.
  3. Mandatory building inspections with a structural engineer over definitive time periods.
  4. The requirement that mortgage holders inquire about building issues and that a question about deferred maintenance and other disclosures be included in the uniform questionnaire. Examples include issues concerning maintenance effecting safety, soundness, and structural integrity of the condominium.
  5. Mandate disclosure to new purchasers of reserve studies and reserve plans.

This is just the beginning of topics being discussed on the local and national level and will undoubtedly have an impact on how boards and community associations operate in the future.

We will continue to monitor this topic and provide an update of any changes.

 

[1] A complete version of this report is located at https://www.caionline.org/HomeownerLeaders/DisasterResources/Documents/CAI.pdf

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Saturday, October 23, 2021 is the date for the next learning opportunity for condominium board members, property managers and unit owners.  Numerous exhibitors will have their wares and services on display including roofers, accountants, pest control experts and contractors of all types.  Perkins & Anctil’s attorneys will be scheduling short consultations during the day for those who sign up before the event.   Interested parties should email Perkins & Anctil  at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with their name, company name and address for complimentary admission to the Expo, no later than October 18th, 2021.

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Senior Partner Charlie Perkins is interested in sharing this press release from the Community Associations Institute regarding the current disaster assistance bill in the House of Representatives:

Bipartisan Legislation Expands Access to FEMA Disaster Assistance to Community Associations Falls Church, VA, Sept. 21, 2021—Today, Community Associations Institute (CAI) applauds Representative David Rouzer (R-NC) for co-sponsoring the Disaster Assistance Equity Act (H.R. 5298) with Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY); a show of bipartisanship that is rarely seen in today’s politics. John Garamendi (D-CA), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Nancy Mace (R-SC), Paul Ruiz (D-CA), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) are additional cosponsors on the bill.

Currently, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) inconsistently interprets regulations in a way that prohibits community associations, commonly referred to as condominiums, homeowners associations, and housing cooperatives from qualifying for federal disaster response and recovery programs. The Disaster Assistance Equity Act will allow FEMA's Public Assistance Program to reimburse costs related to disaster debris removal from community association roads and waterways and allow FEMA's Individuals and Households Assistance Program to provide assistance to condominium unit homeowners for critical common element repairs after a natural disaster.

“In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, thousands of New Yorkers and other Americans were shocked to learn that FEMA's eligibility rules left them with no way of restoring their homes simply because they shared walls and floors with neighbors and lived in a homeowners’ association," said Representative Nadler. The bipartisan support is indicative of how this issue impacts so many Americans that have dealt with a natural disaster. In a Congressional briefing, CAI’s chair of the Government and Public Affairs committee Peter Kristian, CMCA, LSM, PCAM, general manager of Hilton Head Plantation in South Carolina explained that bill is not only for coastal communities hit by hurricanes, but also interior states that experience mudslides, fires, and tornados. He remarked that “Everyone across the entire United States can potentially be affected by one of these types of natural disasters.”

“As severe summer storms, wildfires, and hurricanes plague the lives of Americans across the country, the devastation highlights the inequities of the federal disaster recovery system for the 74 million people living in condominiums, homeowners’ associations, and housing cooperatives,” said Thomas M. Skiba, CAE, Community Association’s Institute’s (CAI) chief executive officer. “After a disaster, these communities deserve federal support. We applaud Chairman Nadler and the bipartisan sponsors of this important legislation.”

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The following was written by C. Scott Canady, originally posted the Community Associations Institute Advocacy Blog (www.advocacy.caionline.org/) and is recommended reading by Attorney Charlie Perkins:

Anyone who has lived in or worked with community associations knows that planning and preparation for natural disasters matters. That is why it is encouraging to see policymakers in Washington, D.C., take steps to make disaster recovery less complicated for common interest communities.

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The following was written by Dawn Bauman, Senior Vice President, Government & Public Affairs at the Community Associations Institute and is recommended reading by our Senior Partner Charlie Perkins: 

One of the challenging factors of the COVID-19 pandemic is the economic impact on individual residents in community associations. As homeowners become unable to fulfill their financial obligation of paying assessments, they will require direct access to resources that can provide relief.

The American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress and signed into law on March 11 includes the Homeowner Assistance Fund to help Americans avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. CAI is very pleased to report that our advocacy efforts have paid off, as homeowners association assessments fall under eligible housing expenses when applying for the fund.

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Summary by: Jessica E. Molignano, Esq.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021 marked the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 State of Emergency in Massachusetts. Although it has certainly been a long year, recent milestones are indicating that we are taking positives steps towards the “new normal.” The purpose of this article is to provide a summary of recent changes, such as the progression in the state’s reopening plan and recently released CDC guidelines for those who are fully vaccinated.

 

Re-Opening Massachusetts

With public health metrics continuing to trend in a positive direction, the Baker-Polito Administration have announced plans for continued reopening.

Beginning on March 1, 2021, the Commonwealth returned to Step 2 of Phase III, pursuant to the four-phased plan to reopen the economy released by the Baker-Polito Administration in May, 2020.

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By:  Scott J. Eriksen, Esq.

Once again, we want to thank all of you who took the time to participate in our recent survey regarding the impact of COVID-19 at your communities. This year has been incredibly challenging as the pandemic has forced all of us – including community associations and managers – to change the way we operate.  It is evident that the health and safety of residents has been the foremost thought of our community association clients and managers this year, and that guiding principle is reflected in the responses that we received from all of you. We have been impressed with the determined efforts that our board and manager contacts have demonstrated, in face of the hurdles imposed by COVID, to keep their communities operating, to make necessary repairs, and to maintain community spirit and involvement. 

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Summary by: Jessica E. Molignano, Esq.

Massachusetts’ temporary moratorium on non-essential evictions and foreclosures established by Chapter 65 of the Acts of 2020, an Act Providing for a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID-19 Emergency, expired on October 17, 2020. However, since the expiration, many landlords and tenants alike remain unsure of how to maneuver through the evictions process. The purpose of this article is to provide some clarity on this process.

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By Kimberly A. Alley, Esq.

The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines are being administered. So – what happens now at work? Are employees required to vaccinate? What if a co-worker refuses to vaccinate? What if my religion prohibits vaccinations? In response to these and other looming questions, the federal government recently issued guidance and gave the green light for employers to require immunization for most workers. Employers may also require proof that an employee was vaccinated.

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Summary by: David R. Chenelle, Esq.

The short answer is “No”, and was answered by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts. 

The facts of this case began in 2003 when Kimmy Jackson (“Jackson”) bought her condominium unit.  A few years after her purchase her financial troubles began, resulting in the foreclosure of her unit in 2008.  After filing several bankruptcy petitions and complaints against various lenders and servicers, and eventually getting her unit deeded back to her, Jackson now has one case pending in the First Circuit Court of Appeals and one that has just been resolved.  It is the second of these two which is the subject of this article.

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The following is from an email received by Attorney Perkins from the Community Associations Institute Massachusetts Legislative Action Committee:

Please help the Massachusetts Community Associations Institute Legislative Action Committee get a bill (H. 4605) that provides protection for condominium unit owners passed before the end of the legislative sessions on December 31, 2020

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The year 2020 has been, and likely will forever be, defined by the global pandemic that has impacted all of us in some way over the past nine months. The pandemic has taken (and, as of this writing, continues to take) a severe toll on human life, activity and productivity. There is a light at the end of the tunnel now: as this is being written, three strong vaccine candidates appear near production, and treatment has come a long way since March.

Unfortunately, we are not yet out of the woods, though, and as we look back and forward, we've been thinking about the impact that COVID-19 has had on our community association clients this year. How many communities closed (and perhaps have not yet reopened) common amenities, were unable to host meetings or social functions, or had to shut-down or delay planned repairs or other work. In a lot of ways, COVID-19 has brought about changes that we expect will linger beyond the virus: electronic meetings, voting by ballot, increased common area sanitation measures, etc.

In this latest installment of our survey series, we would like to hear from all of you about how COVID-19 has impacted your communities. In the past, we've been very impressed with the level of participation in these surveys, and hope that you will once again take the time to provide your input on this session's important topic. For almost all of this, navigating the challenges associated with the pandemic has felt like sailing in uncharted water, but we've all learned lessons from this and we hope that we can use this information to share some of the best practices for how to get through the coming months and how to plan for the future.

Thank you in advance for your participation!

To take the survey, navigate to the URL below:

http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07ehf34q5ykhp28rxc/a01fbkhxjdnrd/greeting

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Perkins & Anctil, P.C. is very pleased to announce the newest member of its legal team, Jessica Molignano, Esq.

Jessica is a graduate of Merrimack College and Massachusetts School of Law, and brings considerable and diverse experience to her role as a member of our Condominium, Litigation and Real Estate practice team. Her prior professional roles include serving as in-house attorney for American Tower and, previously, an Assistant Vice President of Strategy and Planning at Merrimack College, in North Andover, Massachusetts. Jessica was also previously an adjunct faculty member at Merrimack College’s Girard School of Business and School of Health Sciences. Her experience includes a considerable background in operations, project management and development, and property management. She also previously interned with the Massachusetts Housing Court in Worcester.

Jessica is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Business Leaders Network and serves on the Board of Directors for the Community Giving Tree. 

We are honored to have Jessica join us, and believe she will be a considerable asset to all our clients. 

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Senior Partner Charlie Perkins would like readers to know the Community Associations Institute’s thoughts on dealing with the Coronavirus so he has forwarded the article below by Daniel Brannigan, CAI’s Director of Publishing and Managing Editor of Common Ground Magazine:

The COVID-19 pandemic, resulting economic recession, protests for racial and cultural equality, an incredibly divisive election cycle, wildfires, hurricanes, and more have made 2020 one of the most difficult and stressful years ever.

For community association board members and managers, all of these events have made a tough job even tougher. Homeowners have put more pressure than usual on community association leadership, questioning every decision, and voicing their complaints and frustrations as they spend more time at home.

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Perkins & Anctil thanks all veterans for their service to our country. We recognize the sacrifices made by you and your families.

Thank you!

 

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Summary by: Robert W. Anctil, Esq.
On Monday, October 12, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker announced a $171 million package of
programs which will support tenants and landlords facing financial challenges caused by the
COVD-19 pandemic. The main goal is to keep tenants in their homes while also supporting the
ongoing expenses for landlords. The Eviction Diversion Initiative comes in anticipation of, and in
preparation for, the end of the eviction and foreclosure moratorium which expired on October 17,
2020.

 

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COVID-19 has altered our daily routines in many ways. It has also changed the way community associations attend to certain matters such as conducting meetings, campaigning and voting. Necessity has prompted a change in operations, and now Zoom™ meetings, as well as the use of designated proxies and electronic voting are becoming more common. Support for these platforms and alternative operations is growing, as evidenced by a recent decision of the Suffolk Superior Court.
Prior to the pandemic, a condominium in greater Boston chose to utilize electronic voting as an alternative to paper ballots for the election of its board members. Utilizing a link to an online ballot sent by e-mail or a tablet provided in the lobby of the condominium and at the annual meeting itself, this association experienced an unprecedented rate of participation at its annual meeting.

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