t:(978)496-2000 f:(978)496-2002

Managing Partner Rob Anctil would like to alert clients and readers of this recently enacted government program to aid small business.

The CARES Act, federal legislation implemented to address the impacts of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, was signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020. This relief package amounts to approximately $2 trillion dollars and provides a wide range of financial relief to not only individuals, but also to small and large businesses, hospitals, and state and municipal governments. We believe that many of our clients may be able to avail themselves of various funding sources.

Paycheck Protection Program

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the CARES Act's small business relief programs is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

PPP provides up to $349 billion for small businesses. Under PPP, any business with 500 or fewer employees is eligible to receive "forgivable loans" through the Small Business Administration program. Some larger businesses are also eligible, as are independent contractors, sole proprietorships, and self-employed individuals.

PPP is intended to help businesses maintain their payroll between now and the end of June, 2020. In addition, PPP is intended to support small businesses so they may meet other ongoing obligations (such as rent, mortgage payments, utility costs and other fixed expenses through the end of June, 2020).

The most unique and advantageous feature of the program is that PPP funds received by small businesses which are used for the near-term fixed costs or payroll as discussed above will not need to be paid back. PPP will be administered under the Small Business Administration's Section 7(a) lending program but these loans will be forgiven, i.e., converted into grants, if spent on covered expenses during the period now and the end of June, 2020. A comprehensive summary of the PPP can be found here:

https://bit.ly/39nZzY8 .  

The key aspects of the PPP are as follows:

  • Eligible applicants may borrow up to 250% of their average monthly payroll expenses, up to a total of $10 million. As such, if your monthly payroll was $50,000, you would be eligible for a loan in the amount of $125,000.
  • The loan is forgivable 8 weeks after the funds are disbursed. The purpose of PPP is to help retain your employees at their current base pay. If the employer retains the employees, the entirety of the loan will be forgiven. If the employers release some employees, the forgiveness will be reduced by the percent decrease in the number of employees.
  • The application period will be from this week up to June 30, 2020. Please note that we encourage our clients to apply as soon as possible.
  • Recipient businesses can choose which 8 weeks they want to count towards the covered period, which can begin retroactively as early as February 15, 2020. According to the text of the CARES Act, for the borrowed funds to be forgiven, the period during which the funds may be expended on eligible expenses extends to 8 weeks from when the loan is originated. Accordingly, for businesses applying for a PPP loan just prior to the June 30, 2020 application deadline, for example, that expenditure period could be as late as the end of August 2020.
  • The loan forgiveness for payroll and fixed expenses occurs at the end of the 8-week period after the business has taken out the loan.
  • PPP funds used for other business-related expenses, like inventory, will not be forgiven.
  • There will be no personal guarantees or collateral required to obtain the funds.

Who will lend PPP funds?

PPP loans will be administered by banks under the SBA's Section 7(a) program. Many of the banks that we work with frequently are finalizing their PPP procedures. Please contact us and we will make recommendations for SBA lenders.

Summary

While we all remain concerned about the future, the CARES Act should prove to be a great tool for our clients. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the CARES Act and its potential legal implications, or any other COVID-19 matters that may be impacting your business.

The following are helpful links from the US Chamber of Commerce concerning the Act:

https://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/023595_comm_corona_virus_smallbiz_loan_final_revised.pdf  

https://www.uschamber.com/co/start/strategy/cares-act-small-business-guide 

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Managing Partner Rob Anctil would like people to know the Massachusetts Real Estate Bar Association has determined conveyancing attorneys and their staff are essential personnel. He forwards this communication from REBA:


Yesterday, Governor Baker issued an Emergency Executive Order, COVID-19 Order No. 13, requiring all workplaces, except for those defined as essential services, to cease operation from noon on Tuesday, March 24th until noon on Tuesday, April 7th, and to prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people. Those businesses that are essential are encouraged to continue operations.


With the Order came an extensive list of businesses deemed essential. Although not expressly mentioned, REBA believes that transactional real estate lawyers provide essential services as defined by the Order. Under the Financial Services section of the Order, workers identified as essential include those who "are needed to maintain systems for processing financial transactions and services (e.g., payment, clearing, and settlement; wholesale funding; insurance services; and capital market activities)." Also included are "Professional services (such as legal and accounting services)..., when necessary to assist in compliance with legally-mandated activities and critical sector services or where failure to provide such services during the time of the order would result in in significant prejudice."


The services provided by real estate lawyers are necessary for the completion of financial transactions and to assist clients in complying with their legal obligations. Moreover, if real estate lawyers are unavailable to represent their clients, prejudice would undoubtedly result in a myriad of ways, including, among other things, forfeiting the purchase, sale or refinance of a home, losing a favorable interest rate, and not accessing necessary funds.
Under these circumstances, REBA believes transactional real estate lawyers are essential workers and should be permitted to continue operations so long as they practice safe social distancing measures.

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The following was written by various P&A team members:

Dear Clients, Business Associates & Friends,

As the COVID-19 public health emergency continues to create widespread and considerable challenges for individuals, communities and businesses worldwide, we wanted to share with you our thoughts and what we hope will be helpful information specific to our industry.

We have built a successful firm by providing the greatest level of customer service possible, and it is our hope to continue to provide the same expeditious and diligent service and attention during these difficult times. Obviously, the health of our team, clients and friends is foremost in our minds, and we intend to actively monitor bulletins and notices from all federal, state and local authorities relative to best practices for dealing with the virus. Nevertheless, we are confident that, regardless of the directives aimed at limiting the spread of the virus, we will meet our clients’ needs by utilizing our technological resources to communicate and deliver work product with appropriate distance, even in the event of the interruption of personal interaction.

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As the United States continues to see an increase in COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) cases, many of our manager, board member and community association clients have inquired how their communities can prepare for and safeguard against the virus. While it still appears as of this writing that the risk for most Americans remains low, we appreciate the concerns that many of our clients are, or may be, forced to consider in light of the spread of this disease.

We strongly recommend that all individuals concerned about the spread of the virus and its health implications should monitor federal, state and municipal bulletins (in particular, we have been directing clients to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention webpage, which provides daily updates: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html) for accurate and up-to-date information about COVID-19. At this point, little is known for sure about the virus, and people should avoid acting rashly or impulsively. Nevertheless, it behooves communities to hope for the best but plan for the worst, and associations and managers may wish to consider adopting plans or policies for reacting to outbreaks such as this.

At this stage, the best and most consistent advice from health professionals remains simple: people should wash hands thoroughly, use alcohol-based sanitizer, clean potentially infected surfaces, minimize physical contact and stay home/inside if one is feeling ill. At the community association level, we suggest that board members and managers consider adding hand sanitizer stations in common areas, increasing the frequency and intensity of common-area cleaning visits, postponing meetings or social events in common areas, and preparing to close common facilities (particularly gyms, clubhouses, etc.) if the situation warrants.

We will continue to monitor this situation and to coordinate with our industry partners to develop best practices and policies. While we hope to see an end to the threat of COVID-19 soon, its impact highlights the importance of considering plans for similar events in the future. If you have any specific questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Charlie Perkins or Scott Eriksen at 978-496-2000.

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Our Senior Partner Charlie Perkins has forwarded some information about Massachusetts' new Distracted Driving Law and its particulars.  They are as follows:

DRIVERS WHO ARE 18 AND OVER…………………………..
**Can only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode and are
only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode.
**Not permitted to hold or support any electronic device/phone.
**Cannot touch phone except to activate the hands-free mode and can only enable
when the device is installed or properly mounted to the windshield, dashboard, or
center console in a manner that does not impede the operation of the motor vehicle.
**Not allowed to touch device for texting, emailing, apps, video, or internet use.
**Activation of GPS navigation is permitted when the device is installed or properly mounted.
**Handheld use is allowed only if the vehicle is both stationary and not located in a public travel lane, but is not allowed at red lights or stop signs.
**Voice to text and communication to electronic devices is legal only when the device is properly mounted; use of headphone (one ear) is permitted.
DRIVERS WHO ARE UNDER 18………………………
** Are not allowed to use ANY electronic devices. All phone use is illegal, including use in hands-free mode.

PENALITIES FOR VIOLATING THE HANDS-FREE LAW……
1ST Offense………..$100 fine
` 2nd Offense………..$250 fine, plus mandatory completion of a distracted driving educational
program
3rd and subsequent offense…….$500 fine, plus insurance surcharge and mandatory completion of a distracted driving educational program


OPERATORS MAY USE A CELL PHONE TO CALL 911 TO REPORT AN EMERGENCY. IF POSSIBLE, SAFELY PULL OVER AND STOP BEFORE CALLING 911.

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Senior Partner Charlie Perkins has written a newsletter article on the subject and would like to share it here:  

Over this coming year, Perkins & Anctil, P.C., will be sharing a series of educational articles to assist our clients in the day to day operations of their associations. This article is the first in a series which will focus on all aspects of planning, preparing and hosting an Annual Meeting.

1. MEETING PREPARATION

a. Prior to the actual meeting, review the meeting package to make sure it includes all enclosures and was prepared in accordance with the documents. Verify the time and place required for the meeting along with the meeting notice requirement.

b. Make sure the proxies comply with the provisions of the documents. If directed proxies are being utilized, review the condominium documents to confirm their use is permitted pursuant to the documents.

c. A list of unit owners should be updated and current. If possible, utilize a software program (such as Excel) to calculate the number of unit owners in attendance or represented by proxy and confirm the establishment of a quorum.

d. Only unit owners and the holder of a valid proxy and/or a Power of Attorney are permitted to attend the meeting. Other individuals may not be permitted to attend the meeting without the consent of the voting body.

e. Although this seems obvious, make sure the meeting location is set-up in advance with adequate seating and accommodations for people with physical limitations. Make sure all audio-visual equipment is set-up in advance and working properly.

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The following article was written by Community Associations Insitute's Dawn Bauman, CAE on Jan 29, 2020:

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released guidance yesterday for individuals requesting an accommodation for an assistance animal and housing providers responding to these requests under the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
According to HUD, FHA complaints concerning denial of reasonable accommodations and disability access comprise almost 60% of all FHA complaints and those involving requests for reasonable accommodations for assistance animals are significantly increasing. These complaints are one of the most common that HUD receives.

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Perkins and Anctil is proud to announce that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has appointed David R. Chenelle, Esq., Chair of the Clients' Security Board, effective January 27, 2020. Mr. Chenelle is the Director of Condominium Lien Enforcement and Bankruptcy departments at the firm of Perkins & Anctil, P.C. located in Westford, Massachusetts. Mr. Chenelle is a graduate of the Massachusetts School of Law, and has been in practice since 1995. In his earlier professional career, he spent 14 years in the manufacturing industry as an engineer and manager for various defense contractors. During this time has also earned his MBA degree.

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The building at 61 Market Street in Lowell now houses condominiums but has served a number of other purposes since its construction c. 1877. Built for Charles B. Coburn, owner-operator of a business dealing in paints and oils, the load bearing brick edifice with nicely ornamented four story façade was also home to, among many other businesses, a furniture painter named L. M. Andrews, a wholesale provisioner named William B. Carey and, later, the Birke’s Department Store in the 1970s. Mr. Coburn’s business remained viable until at least 1924 according to research on file with the Massachusetts Historical Commission. The building was recently adapted for use as the Birke Building Condominium, a conversion that took place in 2005.

Birke Building

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Attorney Eriksen is preparing to distribute an interactive survey via Constant Contact that deals with insurance and is seeking input about individual unit coverage, deductible allocation and deductible cap limits, among other things.  His concern is with the shared investment that all condominium owners make when they purchase a unit and how best to protect that investment though risk management and mitigation measures. 

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The following article is by our senior pertner, Charles A. Perkins, Jr., Esq.

Recently, the FHA acknowledged that it was willing to modify its loan program by offering spot loans to condominium owners. However, in order to be eligible for these loans, the association would be required to complete a questionnaire such as the one we have attached hereto https://www.perkinslawpc.com/images/FHA_Condominium_Loan_-_Approval_Questionaire.pdf . There are concerns with the information requested in this form and if it is not answered completely and truthfully by the association, the board could be subject to fines and in the worst case, legal prosecution.

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The following is by David R. Chenelle, Esq.:  The answer to this question was recently answered by the Norfolk Superior Court in the case of Board of Trustees of the Whitman Pond Village Condominium Trust vs. Jacquelyn Colligan et. al. (“Whitman”)Whitman, as a result of the unit owner’s failure to pay her regular monthly condominium fees, began a Lien Enforcement action pursuant to M.G.L. 183A, §6. As required by statute Whitman provided dutiful notice to the unit owner and all interested parties including the secured mortgage lender at that time, Bank of America (“BOA”). However, during the pending litigation the mortgage was subsequently transferred to the Secretary of HUD and then again to the portfolio of Wilmington Savings Fund (“Wilmington” or the “Bank”).

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The Following was suggested by Senior Partner Charlie Perkins and written by By Lauren Fielder on Dec 18, 2019: With the ease and convenience of online shopping, more people are choosing to have packages delivered directly to their homes.  But the spike in deliveries leading up to the holidays means purchases may be vulnerable to theft before they even make it through the front door.  Package theft has become rampant in recent years, with more than 1.7 million packages going missing or being stolen every day across the U.S., according to the New York Times.

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The bane of a lawyer’s existence is the saying that bad facts equal bad law. In a case recently settled, a lawsuit was commenced against a condominium board and unit owner when a resident was attacked by a level 3 sex offender who was also a paranoid schizophrenic.

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Article written by Robert W. Anctil, Esq.
Perkins & Anctil (P&A) is proud to acknowledge our client and friend Allyson Kreycik, Senior Vice President of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate for her recognition as the 2019 recipient of the Guaranteed Rate Foundation’s Ambassador Award. Allyson is a longtime member of the company’s Chairman’s Circle and President’s Circle. Ranking among the Scotsman Guide’s Top 100 Loan Originators and Mortgage Executive Magazine’s Top 1 Percent since 2013, Allyson closes over $100 million in sales year after year through referrals alone.

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The following article is by David R. Chenelle, Esq.:  

This case begins in September of 2009, when Jamie Sue Aleckna (“Ms. Aleckna”), as a student at the California Coast University (“CCU”), completed her course work but failed to pay her remaining $6,300.00 in overdue tuition. As a result of the non-payment, and as most readers would expect, CCU then placed Ms. Aleckna’s file on financial hold. Unfortunately for CCU, its problems began in 2012, when Ms. Aleckna and her husband filed for bankruptcy protection listing CCU as a creditor with the tuition debt listed as unsecured and disputed.

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Senior partner Charlie Perkins has written the following about improving internet service to condominium associations: 

CAI has recently been involved in securing changes to the FHA loan review process and has also provided input to the FCC regarding ways to improve competitive broadband internet service for condominium associations.Recent changes to the FHA approvals for condominiums involve significant changes to the FHA loan process for unit owners.

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And the Community Associations Institute is following government efforts to stem false claims regarding emotional support animals and the documentation that goes with them.  Community association and condominium boards may request such documentation in order to allow pets that would normally be proscribed in the association.  Internet sources for false documents, ones that are delivered by an entity that has no first hand knowledge of the individual, are considered unreliable and are becoming more commonly available.  Attorney Perkins suggests some further reading at https://advocacy.caionline.org/hud-support-animals/

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Attorney Scott J. Eriksen has composed the following suggestions for condo board members regarding review of doccuments:  Over the past several weeks, I have fielded a particularly large number of questions and requests from clients related to reviewing and updating condominium documents. “Scott,” goes the typical inquiry, “our governing documents are from the early ‘80s and we haven’t done much with them since then.  Is it time to re-write them?” The answer I almost always give to this is query is: probably not.

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Attorney Charlie Perkins would like people to know the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee will hear arguments for an amendment to allow HAM radio (amateur radio) operators to install towers or antennas regardless of prohibitions in community association covenants.  He suggests people call the Massachusetts committee member, Sen. Ed Markey, at 202-224-2742 and request the committee reject the bill and preserve the rights of community associations in Massachusetts to govern such equipment installation. 

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