Condo Counsel

Preparing for the Next Economic Wave: Loan Service Will Meet Commercial Real Estate Needs

By Frank A. Lombardi, Esq.

At GSL, we try to anticipate problems as well as trends so that we will be in the best position to serve our clients and colleagues, not only those in condominium communities but also bankers, developers, and contractors. When I contemplate changes in the real estate market, I tend to see myself paddling on a surfboard, with one wave breaking in front of me and another one on the horizon.

While I’m not an economist, I have sensed that there is generally more demand among homebuyers in the New England residential housing market, as evidenced by the closings we’re handling and recent market statistics.  I am also beginning to see rippling effects in the commercial real estate market as well.  Is the market recovery here?  I am not certain, but I am sure that it is not far behind as our offices are witnessing the beginning of increased demand for real estate in the office, industrial, and retail sectors.  Again, I do not know for sure when this next big wave will squarely hit our shores, but I do know that we need to be prepared for changing market conditions, and that will include meeting an increased need for commercial loans.

Accordingly, we at GSL are expanding our real estate legal services to assist clients in securing loans and writing closing documents. (more…)

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Sex Offenders: How to Deal with a Nasty Problem

By Ellen A. Shapiro, Esq. 

The existence of sex offenders in our society is a sad reality that continues to make headlines.  Within condominium communities, this troubling issue has specific implications.  Indeed, one of the most difficult issues confronting association boards, property managers, and counsel today is whether boards should inform their members of the presence of a sex offender within the community—and if so, how to do this properly.

Fortunately, there are guidelines that can help associations take the right steps to protect everyone involved in a responsible and lawful manner. (more…)

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Need a Loan? You Can Bank on This!

By Henry A. Goodman, Esq.

We at GSL understand how important it is for many associations to secure loans. They need loans to help them make much-needed repairs for their aging buildings and facilities. In addition, loans can help associations save money during these difficult economic times. Key to finding the best loan, however, is doing business with the best banks.

Accordingly, we thought it would be helpful to let you know of banks with which our law practice has developed good working relationships through the years. Such banks allow us to represent both our clients’ interests and the banks’ and write the loan-closing documents, provided a waiver of any conflict is signed.  (more…)

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Clearing the Air: Smoking Regulations & Condos

By Henry A. Goodman, Esq.

As more studies confirm the harmful effects of smoking and secondhand smoke, the banning of cigarettes, cigars, and pipes is becoming more prevalent in common areas throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  And now, this is also becoming a major issue in condominium units.

On the one hand, smoking in your own home is lawful and specifically permitted by statute.  Unit owners who smoke tend to be stubborn about their perceived privacy rights, particularly if they are addicted and find it so hard to quit. They typically would resent being told that they have to smoke outside of their unit and even outside of the condominium property.  But what about the rights of non-smokers? (more…)

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Picture This: A Click Can Make Your Case

How many words is a picture really worth?

By: Merle Haas, Esq.

Attorneys are wordsmiths, good at making logical, compelling arguments and backing them up with legal authority. But sometimes words don’t go quite far enough. I credit a recent success as well as another strong brief to the judicious use of photographs supplied by my clients. Both cases involved satellite dishes, improperly situated. I could have filled volumes describing the strictures of the Master Deed and the placement of the offending dishes.  But not only would I have lost my audience; even worse, I would never have approached the clarity and conciseness expressed in a simple photo of the scene. (more…)

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Protecting RI Associations From Transfer Fees

By Frank A. Lombardi, Esq.

In many states and also on the federal level, there is movement to prohibit unwarranted transfer fees related to real estate transactions. While these proposed bills have the good intention of preventing real estate developers from milking real estate deals, we believe that the unintended consequences of this pending legislation would be to possibly prohibit condominium associations from charging fees for Resale Certificates, “move in and move out” fees, and the typical two-month working capital deposit fees.  (more…)

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Associations & Music Licensing Fees

By Merle Hass, Esq.

Does your association allow music to be performed in the common areas? Show movies in the clubhouse? If so, even if your facilities are not open to the general public and they appear to be private and small-scale, you are probably obligated to pay a licensing fee to one or more licensing entities, such as ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers); BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated), SESAC (Society of European Stage Authors and Composers); or MPLC (Motion Picture Licensing Corporation). If you don’t, you are exposing yourself to considerable risk. (more…)

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Resolving Encroachment Issues

By Merle Hass, Esq.

A recent case our firm successfully resolved involved a dispute with a neighbor of one of our condominium clients.  Our client noticed that the neighbor had paved an area for a patio, set down several large storage containers, and built a big shed for gravel and sand.  After having a surveyor confirm that the shed and other structures were on Association land, the Board asked us for advice. (more…)

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The Dish on Satellite Dishes: Owners Get Poor Reception if They Venture into Common Areas

By Merle Hass, Esq.

As satellite dishes become more popular, more condominium unit owners are installing them on their property.  But some are treading into common areas, and in so doing, they risk a poor reception in Court. (more…)

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Snow & Ice: How to Avoid a Slippery Legal Slope

By Ellen Shapiro, Esq.

The winter has been relatively mild so far, but March has roared in like a lion, and we’re not out of the woods yet. It can be a slippery slope if we’re not prepared—especially in light of a Massachusetts Supreme Court decision regarding snow removal.

(more…)

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