Condo Counsel

A Word About Karma and Development Rights: The Cautionary Tale of a Luxury Condominium Developer on Goat Island, in Newport, RI

A Word About Karma and Development Rights: The Cautionary Tale of a Luxury Condominium Developer on Goat Island, in Newport, RI

By: Frank Lombardi, Esq.

In the case of In re: IDC Clambakes, Inc, Chapter 11 Case No. 05-12267-MSH (2014) the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Rhode Island earlier this spring made some interesting law here when it determined that because a Master Association and its sub Associations had impliedly consented to the developer’s use and occupancy of a reserved area after the expiration of development rights, the developer was under no obligation to pay for the use and occupancy thereof.

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Unit Owner Sales: What is the Responsibility of the Association?

Unit Owner Sales: What is the Responsibility of the Association?

By: Frank Lombardi, Esq.

Home sales in Rhode Island, including condominiums, are on the rise. Finally! During the sales downturn the last few years, many municipal and state regulations put in place are only now are being felt as people are once again putting their single family homes and condominium units on the market for sale. As a result, issues regarding resale of condominium units are now more prevalent.

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Common Errors in Assessment Collection: Issues with Interest, Fines, Enforcement

Common Errors in Assessment Collection: Issues with Interest, Fines, Enforcement

By Mary-Joy Howes, Esq.

One of the most common and debilitating issues for community associations is dealing with owners who fail to pay their condominium fees. Most associations have their own policies for dealing with assessment collections as it applies to late or otherwise recalcitrant unit owners. These policies, however, do not always comply with The Rhode Island Condominium Act, rendering them ultimately unenforceable. In my experience reviewing thousands of association ledgers over the years, I notice the same common errors being made. A few of those errors include improper calculation of interest, unenforceable fines, and selective enforcement.

How to address these issues is the subject of this article. Why is this so important?  Because failure to correctly pursue a delinquency under the statute can expose the association to liability in an area that otherwise provides a lot of protection.

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Flag Flap in Boston Condominium Unfurls High Emotions

EllenBy Ellen A. Shapiro, Esq.

As we approach the anniversary of 9/11, many people are thinking of ways to honor our country and how we stood up to terrorism, including the patriotic symbols displayed by millions to show America’s unified spirit.  Twelve years ago, banners, ribbons, and flags emerged on cars, windows, mail boxes, etc. to proudly display symbols of that spirit—a tradition that continues today.

Unfortunately, back in 2001 many community associations were unprepared to deal with the outpouring of support by their members.  The governing documents of most associations contained architectural integrity clauses designed to preserve the uniform appearance of the condominium’s exterior by prohibiting the installation of signs, banners, and flags to the exterior of units or in common areas; they also prohibited the display of any “decoration” on a window that could be viewed from outside the unit.  Conflicts and confusion arose between the boards that were obligated to enforce the governing documents and the residents who wanted to demonstrate their patriotism. (more…)

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GSL Lets Cats out of the Bag (or Unit!) and Helps Clients Deal with Pet Hoarding

By Mary-Joy Howes, Esq.

Pet hoarding has become an increasingly messy problem for condominium associations.  It is important for associations to understand what their rights and remedies are – and how to enforce them in situations that threaten the well-being of the community’s health, safety, and property.

The following case in point involves cats, but many others have involved dogs: (more…)

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The Legalization of Medical Marijuana: Associations Deal with High Stakes and Murky Legal Issues

 by Henry A. Goodman, Esq.

For some time, condominium boards have had to deal with the challenging issue of smoking in their communities.  Now, with the legalization of medical marijuana in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, smoking issues have become more complicated—and the resulting legal implications have become increasingly murky. (more…)

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Not So Fast: A Private Speeder is Stopped in His Tracks

By Merle Hass, Esq.
*This will be the last article authored by Ms. Hass as she has accepted the position of Assistant General Counsel to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers.

While there are no reported cases in Massachusetts on this issue, associations frequently confront the problem of unit owners and occupants speeding through the condominium grounds and otherwise failing to observe the board’s rules concerning driving on the roadways. We have just reviewed an interesting, recent decision by the Illinois Supreme Court concerning the right of a Property Owners Association to enforce traffic rules and regulations on its private grounds (captioned Poris v. Lake Holiday Property Owners Association, 2013 Ill. 113907, 2013).

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Unpaid Common Fees and Bankruptcy: Navigating the Conundrum of Financial Distress

 by Henry A. Goodman, Esq.

In 1993, the Massachusetts legislature, by act signed by the governor with an emergency preamble, granted condominiums a limited priority lien ahead of the first mortgage. The legislature did this, in part, to force lenders to take action when they had previously failed to act. This failure to act when lenders had the priority over associations caused financial distress to associations that were not collecting sufficient common fees from delinquents. However, this great tool that levels the playing field is always under attack (1) from lenders who oppose more than one priority lien period in any 30-year mortgage and (2) unit owners who are in financial distress.

Along comes bankruptcy. The basic principle is to give a second chance to a person without hope financially. Therefore, when one decides that there is no way to make ends meet, that person may file a request for relief from the bankruptcy court. (more…)

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Making Sense of a Senseless Act: The Newtown Tragedy and Uncomfortable Questions to Come

By Frank A. Lombardi, Esq.

It’s been two months since the tragic shooting at Shady Hook in Newtown, Conn., and I’m still processing this.  I don’t know whether this was a result of a failed gun control policy, underfunded mental health policies, or an increasingly violent society.  What I am certain of is that whatever comes of this, the matter will hit close to home for people living in community associations. If, by raising questions, the dialogue continues and leads to a safer environment for all of us, especially children, then we can hopefully move forward.

For now, though, as a condominium law practitioner, I can anticipate key questions we will need to deal with:

  • Can we limit or ban guns in condominiums?
  • Can or must the association protect its members from unit owners with mental or emotional health issues who could be considered “dangerous” but may not in fact be dangerous?

Related to the above, it’s important to address the following concerns:   (more…)

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Coming Home: Homes and Condos Fill Up with Family Members, Creating Legal and Ethical Dilemmas

By Frank A. Lombardi, Esq.

Someone once said that “Home is the place that you go where they have to take you in.”

Given today’s still uncertain economy, those words are ringing true in Providence and beyond.

With the onset of the Great Recession, the world’s most powerful economy went into a deep and extended contraction and correction. As a result, millions of people have lost jobs and experienced a catastrophic loss of equity in their homes, if not an out-and-out loss through foreclosure or short sales.  And so, scores of family members, both young and old, are coming home.

By “home,” I mean that place where 60- to-80-something seniors are living with their 30- to-40-something children, who in turn, are living with their infant, pre-teen and teenage children as well.  Throw in aunts, uncles, and cousins with their significant others, and you have some or all generations of a family living under one roof.

All this creates legal and ethical dilemmas.  (more…)

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