Whether it’s pending Airbnb legislation in various markets; homeowners winning the ability to sue condominium developers for faulty practices; or changes to how boards and managers can transmit meeting minutes to residents, condos and HOAs are often at the mercy of legislators and the legal system. As constituents, they have a voice, but the question remains: are the interests of this niche collective fairly represented? No matter your opinion on that question, if you’re in a leadership position in your own community, it’s crucial that you stay abreast of changes to the law, so your association can stay on the right side of it.
Massachusetts Condo Owners Win in Court
According to Dawn Bauman, Community Associations Institute (CAI)’s Senior Vice President of Government & Public Affairs, a new ruling came down in early 2018 from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (Trustees of the Cambridge Point Condominium Trust vs. Cambridge Point, LLC, the community’s developer) stating that condominium developers cannot restrict owners from filing construction defect lawsuits.
“Condominium developers cannot unreasonably restrict the ability of homeowners to file suits against them,” notes Bauman. At the crux of the argument was developers’ use of the “poison pill” defense, which protects them from liability for construction defects, design flaws, and other claims condominium owners might pursue against the developers of their communities.
“The court’s ruling protects the more than two million Massachusetts residents living in community associations that are private entities,” says Bauman.
Bauman further explains that the CAI released a survey report in 2017 indicating that nearly 50 percent of construction deficiencies became evident after the statute of limitations had expired, and more than 44 percent of construction defect cases were settled out of court.