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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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Senior Partner Charles A. Perkins is concerned about fire safety and noticed that the fire safety product maker Kidde has issued a recall on its dual sensor smoke alarms for a manufacturing defect.  He forwards this link for those who may have these installed:  https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2018/kidde-recalls-dual-sensor-smoke-alarms-due-to-risk-of-failure-to-alert-consumers-to-a

 

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Senior Partner Charles A. Perkins would like to make people aware of potential changes coming to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae via a congressional effort to “Re-privatize” the institutions. CAI members are concerned the effort may hamper accountability of lenders toward condominium owners, among other things, such as access to mortgages.  Charlie forwards this link with more information from the CAI website:  https://advocacy.caionline.org/tag/freddie-mac/ 

 

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Our senior partner Charles A. Perkins, Jr., director of lien enforcement David R. Chenelle and partner Scott J. Eriksen are in Palms Springs, CA from January 31 to February 3 to attend the Community Associations Institute’s annual event.  Learning opportunities at the conference include presentations on current events and trends in community association living such as dealing with hoarders, 55+ communities, the Fair Housing Act and others.  Networking among attendees is another vital function of the gathering.  We look forward to hearing from our attorneys on their return…

 

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Attorney Charles A. Perkins is one of many specialists involved in repairing the damage to multiple units after an owner accidentally set fire inside his unit.  The displaced residents include several neighbors as well as parents of young children, all living in Building 7.  Questions of insurance, asbestos and mold require multiple safety precautions and may delay people’s return.  A news article in The Landmark newspaper with more information is available here:  http://www.thelandmark.com/articles/countryside-estates-fire-brings-safety-issues-to-light/

 

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Based on the insane amount of snow Massachusetts experienced this winter, some experts foresee lenient juries in slip and fall cases.  Most people remember being unable to keep up with the extreme accumulations, especially in late January and early February.  This blogger was forced to snowshoe-pack his front yard so he could throw more snow onto it from the driveway.  The limited ability of owners and managers to expose bare ground in these conditions may result in an easier defense - at least temporarily. 

As a reminder, P&A is recommending leaving open cabinet doors containing water pipes on outside walls, the dishwasher door and, in extremely cold temperatures, leaving faucets open at a drip.   Shoveling roof eaves is another way to avoid winter storm damage to buildings.  Keep warm…

 

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