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COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our lives, and has certainly already had a significant financial impact on nearly everyone. Unfortunately, this past week the Massachusetts Attorney General issued Regulations [click here] that directly impact the collection of past due common expenses. The purpose for the regulations was to protect consumers from certain debt collection activity. However, in doing so the regulations effectively prohibit associations, property managers and their attorneys from initiating, filing or threatening to file a new collection lawsuit. While the regulations do not apply to mortgage holders or landlords, it appears that the Attorney General did not consider the impact on condominiums or homeowner associations. Rather, the unintended consequences of these regulations are that neighbors are carrying the expenses of the condominium for the other owners who cannot pay. Clearly, this is unfair and cannot be what the Attorney General was hoping to accomplish with these regulations.
MEEB is actively seeking to convince the Attorney General that the collection of unpaid common expenses for condominium and homeowner associations should be exempt from these regulations. MEEB attorneys are working together, with a coalition of other law firms representing associations, and with the New England Chapter of Community Associations Institute (CAI) and the members of the Real Estate Bar Association to obtain an exemption for Massachusetts associations. Nevertheless, until we are successful in getting the Attorney General to exempt condominium and homeowner associations from these regulations or the expiration of the regulations in 90 days (or sooner, upon the expiration of the Massachusetts state of emergency), boards are strongly encouraged to be in compliance. There is no prohibition in place at this time for Rhode Island and New Hampshire association clients.