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Attorney Charlie Perkins forwards the following update on the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s action against community associations:

By Dawn Bauman (6/2/16)

Led by Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA-D), the Massachusetts congressional delegation wrote to urge Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Melvin Watt to reconsider FHFA’s attack on state-level priority lien laws.

The Massachusetts congressional delegation wrote: “Given the widespread effect that FHFA’s new policy will have, we believe the agency should solicit and consider public comments before implementing it. Accordingly, we request that FHFA delay implementation of its new policy on state priority lien laws and set up a process for obtaining and reviewing public comments on the issue. FHFA should consider how its policy would advance each of its statutory purposes, including its obligation to ensure that ‘the operations and activities of each regulated entity foster liquid, efficient, competitive, and resilient national housing finance markets.” 

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Event organizers intent on raising awareness for fallen first responders and law enforcement officers created 13.1 mile and 5 mile routes that began at the Boston Seaport World Trade Center and wound through downtown by Government Center, The Public Gardens and out to Cambridge along the Charles River. Kim spent the first 12 years of her legal career representing police officers and ran the Half Marathon event on Sunday, May 29. She is training for the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC on October 30th.

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The upcoming holiday, marking the unofficial beginning of summer, was originally intended to honor our nation’s fallen military heroes. Beginning after the Civil War, the Grand Army of the Republic, a Union Army Veterans’ organization, chose to decorate the graves of soldiers with flowers as a commemoration of their service. The tradition continues today and staff at Perkins & Anctil wishes to thank all members of the Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, National Guard and Air Force for their service.

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The US housing market has not seen the current rate of new home sales since January of 2008.
Also, the seasonally adjusted rate, which was at 216,000 according to the Commerce Department, exceeded economists’ estimates by nearly 100,000. Market analysts attribute the rise to a number of factors, including steady growth in employment and continued low mortgage interest rates. A low inventory of houses for sale has the added effect of raising prices and shortening time on the market. Attorney Rob Anctil forwards this Wall Street Journal article with more information: http://www.wsj.com/article_email/u-s-new-home-sales-at-fastest-pace-in-eight-years-during-april-1464098576-lMyQjAxMTE2NDIwNDIyNTQ5Wj

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Four companies have announced plans or made demonstrations regarding their intention to build a tubular transport system from Los Angeles to San Francisco that would cut travel time from 6 hours of driving to 30 minutes. This requires speeds of around 750 mph which can be best achieved using enclosed tracks with magnetic levitation capability and vacuum pressure to drive passenger and cargo pods up and down the west coast. Hyperloop Technologies Inc., Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, a company called SpaceX run by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk and skyTran, a NASA affiliate, are all building teams and hardware and even planning test sites in Texas and Nigeria. Attorney Scott Eriksen forwards this USA TODAY article on the Hyperloop: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2016/05/09/la-sf-30-min-hyperloop-wars/84137224/

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Over 60 entities have filed for bankruptcy protection as a result of the current market downturn despite the recent marginal recovery in oil prices. Exco Resources, Inc. of Dallas, TX is the latest and one of at least five to file last week. Prices of $25/bbl in February have rebounded to around $45/bbl but the increase is not sufficient to stave off restructuring for many energy producers who require a market in the $55/bbl range to continue operating. It is noteworthy that some failing organizations are considering making creditors into shareholders as a way of shedding debt. Bankruptcy Attorney David R. Chenelle forwards this Reuters.com article with more information: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-energy-bankruptcies-idUSKCN0Y42BK

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The Perkins & Anctil website has a number of sections that could be helpful to condominium unit owners. These explain concepts behind the creation of a condominium, their operation and the associated legal aspects. The following can be found in the Condominium Law section under the Glossary heading:

Condominium Fees: These pay for the maintenance and operating expenses of the condominium. They are also known as Common Area Fees. Most Condominium fees include the master insurance policy and exterior maintenance of the building. It may also pay for landscaping, snow removal, cleaning of common areas, pool maintenance, etc. Each unit owner has an undivided interest in the common elements of the building. This ownership interest is often referred to as “percentage interest.” The percentage interest is the unit’s ownership percentage of the common elements and is used in calculating the fees that unit owners must pay towards their upkeep and renewal.

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The National Association of Home Builders has conducted a nationwide survey of building contractors about regulatory fees and learned that those for code compliance, permitting and sewer use are holding steady but increasingly common “Impact Fees” are adding to their bottom line costs. The list of costs that did not exist a decade ago includes storm water management and tree planting requirements designed to mitigate negative effects on neighbors and previously existing communities. Attorney Rob Anctil forwards this Wall Street Journal article with more information: http://www.wsj.com/article_email/home-builders-say-they-are-squeezed-by-rising-compliance-costs-1462613401-lMyQjAxMTE2MzAwOTUwNzkzWj

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Perkins & Anctil attorneys and staff are attending the event which is to be held at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston on Tuesday May 24, 2016 from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm. Come visit us at Booth #326 and receive a free copy of our flyer, “10 Must Haves in Your Condominium Documents”. Also, patrons are welcome to query our condominium experts regarding their association rules and documents. Register at https://ne-expo.com/. Admission is free!

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Pending voter approval of recreational use of the drug this fall, Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg is getting ready to block home cultivation and retail distribution until January, 2018. Polls suggest legalization is imminent for the Commonwealth so Ms. Goldberg is also proposing the assembly of a Cannabis Control Commission which would act like the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, a group that already functions within her office. She goes on to note that with legalization would come increased costs for enforcement and regulation.

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When unit owners at the Pickwick Manor Condominium were asked to pay an increased condo fee without explanation from the board member with control of the checkbook, some decided to investigate the financial situation. They found an arrearage of over $150,000 to the utility service provider as well as multiple checks written for unauthorized goods and services.  It seems the former manager who is an elderly woman was under pressure from her son to write him checks on the association account in order for him to fund his child support payments and other debts. The Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise has this article with more information:>http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_29748574/bitter-pill-swallow#ixzz45WuupSPE

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The following article was forwarded by Attorney Charlie Perkins:

Thanks to the efforts of the Brambleton Community Association in Northern Virginia and their community manager, Rick Stone, AMS, LSM, PCAM, Representative Barbara Comstock (R-VA) has signed on to The Helping Our Middle-Income Earners (HOME) Act as the first Republican co-sponsor, making the bill bi-partisan. Rep. Comstock will help further our efforts by sending a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter to her fellow House Republicans asking for their support by co-sponsoring the HOME Act.

While this is a step in the right direction, we still need your help. Hearing from constituents helps legislators to decide which bills to support. Click here to contact your Representative today and urge them to co-sponsor the HOME Act.

The HOME Act, H. R. 4696, introduced by Representatives Eshoo (D-CA) and Thompson (D-CA), allows for an income tax deduction for homeowners association assessments and fees. Specifically, the bill provides for homeowners in community associations – condominiums, housing cooperatives and homeowners associations – who earn $115,000 or less in annual income, to deduct up to $5,000 of their association fees and assessments from their federal tax liability.

Click here to contact your Representative today and urge them to co-sponsor the HOME Act!

“The HOME Act recognizes that millions of middle class homeowners are struggling to keep up with rising household expenses like child care, college tuition, health care, mortgage and community assessments,” Eshoo said. “The Home Act can go a long way by providing relief from this tax burden on millions of middle class families.”

This bill recognizes the financial inequity facing homeowners in a community association as they pay property taxes and community assessments but receive many municipal services from their community association not the municipality. The HOME Act would lighten the financial burden of homeowners and make homeownership more affordable and attainable for more families.

If you need additional information about this issue, please contact us anytime at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (888) 224-4321.

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Peabody Energy of St. Louis, MO has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, hoping to restructure some of the debt incurred by the company due to steadily dropping coal prices. Spokespeople say the company intends to continue operating, although given the global and long term projected decline in demand, particularly from China, the reduced cost for competing energy sources like natural gas and shale oil, and the increase of availability of renewable energy, it seems unlikely the coal industry will return to its former market position. Click the link for more information: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/13/474059310/u-s-coal-giant-peabody-energy-files-for-bankruptcy

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Attorney Charlie Perkins forwards this warning issued by HOA.COM:

In this edition of our weekly e-newsletter we would like to feature an original article by www.HOA-USA.com focusing on a topic of national importance: the Zika Virus.

Zika – HOAs Should Be Proactive

Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.

Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus and has been linked to a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly in babies of mothers who had Zika virus while pregnant. Other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, such as absent or poorly developed brain structures, defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth. CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women.

There are over 351,000 homeowner associations in the United States. Collectively, this represents over 40 million households or 53% of the owner occupied households in the United States. Here are 2 easy to implement actions that homeowner association residents, boards, and management companies can take…

Please read Zika – HOAs Should Be Proactive.  You can view the entire article here.

Do you have questions concerning the governance of your association? HOA-USA.com offers a Membership Program that provides additional educational content along with a series of ten Board Training Videos.  We are also the only national company to provide priority email and phone support.

Membership is an investment of only $99/year for the entire association.  Click here for more information about this crucial training, content and support.

Please forward this e-newsletter to fellow board members and homeowners. They can sign up to receive future editions of our e-newsletter here.

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The Supreme Judicial Court is expected to rule in the case of two women who were formerly in a domestic relationship, raised two children born by one of the partners, and are now disputing parenting rights. After 13 years of living together as a couple but without benefit of civil union of any kind, nor a biological relationship to either child on the part of one partner, nor an attempt at adoption by the non-birth mother, nor even her appearance on the children’s birth certificates, the partner of the birth mother is seeking visitation, a right that is being considered by the SJC. The case is under scrutiny by lesbian rights groups as well as fertility rights groups for its multi-faceted points of argument. Attorney Rob Anctil forwards this Boston Globe article with more on the matter:

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Zillow, the online real estate database, has determined that for Boston and vicinity, the best time to put a home up for sale is May 16 to May 31. It seems hyper-specific but they back up the claim by citing their listing, sale and “Zestimate” data from 2008-2015. This information leads them to conclude houses stay on the market for a shorter period and bring higher prices when sold at that time. Company economists appear to believe that there is a selling season starting in the spring and that waiting to list well into that time piques demand. See the Boston Agent Magazine web site for more information: http://bostonagentmagazine.com/2016/03/02/the-best-time-of-the-year-to-list-a-home-in-greater-boston/

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Since mortgage lenders are bound to consider tax rates when figuring a borrower’s ability to repay, buyers must also consider them when house hunting. Wide variations exist from town to town and knowing where taxes are low can aid in locating the property that is best suited to a loan applicant. The median price nationwide, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, is $175,700 which means that, depending on your location within the Commonwealth, the tax bill could be below $2,000 or over $4,000 which is a difference of over $150 per month. Attorney Rob Anctil forwards this article with more information: http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/bbj_research_alert/2015/01/massachusetts-property-tax-rates-in-2015-by-town.html

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The staff of Perkins & Anctil met for a night of bowling, dining and fun at King’s in Burlington. The team building event involved two strings of candlepins, pizza, bruschetta and a little cocktailing. The high score was out up by our Director of Finance, Peter Bogosian whose experience as a youth in Midwest league play left the rest of the staff in his wake. Thanks to all of our coworkers for joining us for a fun night!

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Written by Staff Attorneys at P&A

Perkins & Anctil, P.C. is happy to announce good news for condominium associations throughout the Commonwealth.

On March 29, 2016, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued its decision in the case of Drummer Boy Homes Association, Inc. v. Carolyn P. Britton. In the long-awaited decision, the SJC reversed the lower court’s ruling and held that the Massachusetts Condominium Act (M.G.L. c. 183A) authorizes condominium associations to establish “multiple contemporaneous priority liens on a condominium unit by filing successive legal actions to collect unpaid” common expenses. Said differently, the Court’s decision permits associations to “roll liens,” which had been the standard practice for nearly two decades and is a crucial tool for ensuring that associations are able to recover a maximum amount of unpaid assessments.

The SJC’s decision will benefit all of our association clients by:

  • Facilitating prompt and full payment of all priority amounts from first mortgage holders;
  • Enhancing flexibility of resolution by allowing associations to enter into extended payment plans without jeopardizing priority recovery;
  • Potentially reducing the number of foreclosure actions and unit turnover; and,
  • Eliminating “gaps” in recovery caused by the inherent delays under the statutory and court process.

In summary, the SJC’s decision will benefit all associations by optimizing their ability to collect unpaid assessments and thus strengthen and maintain financially sound communities. We are pleased to have been a part of this important decision as co-authors of the Community Association Institute (CAI) amicus brief filed with the Court.

A copy of the complete decision is available by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Should you have any questions about the decision, or about pending cases or future actions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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The United States First Circuit Court of Appeals is considering the forgiveness of a Duxbury man’s student loan debt of over $200,000 he borrowed to pay the college tuition for his children. He is seeking bankruptcy relief since he lost his job and, according to his lawyers, his ability to repay the debt despite a 15 year failed job search, is extremely limited. While the borrower’s request was denied in US Bankruptcy Court because it was not considered an undue hardship, the First Circuit Court of Appeals is now considering his arguments. It is generally a rare occurrence for the Bankruptcy Court to forgive student loan debt but some judges have begun to recognize the scale of the problem, including U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank J. Bailey who told Murphy during a 2013 hearing, “I’m darn near in that situation myself.” The fear of forgiving such a debt in the past was that those who are merely temporarily unable to repay would take advantage of the ruling. Attorney David R. Chenelle forwards this Boston Globe article with more information: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/03/13/bankrupt-dad-battles-get-student-loan-debt-forgiven/cYGo9MeCZ5hj1oPdCqezbO/story.html?s_campaign=8315

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