Q&A: Who Do We Trust?

Q We have an owner, with an interested buyer who is an inheritor in a trust, and  wishes to purchase the unit with only the name of the trust on the deed. Is  this sound policy for us to allow the deed to only show a trust’s name? What kind of risks are there in doing this, if any? We have not had this  situation present itself in all the time we’ve been here going on 12 years. We would appreciate any information you can  provide us so we can decide on what to say to the owner.  

 —In Name Only  

A “In general, the board does not have a right to condition how a prospective buyer  of a unit may wish to take the legal title described in a deed transferring  ownership of the unit,” says attorney Pamela Jonah of the law firm of Goodman, Shapiro & Lombardi, LLC in Dedham, MA.“In fact, a board could be accused of interference with a contractual  relationship should it attempt to impose a restriction on how title is taken by  a prospective buyer. In what manner title is taken in any given deed, be it  individually, jointly or through as trustee of a trust is between the seller  and the buyer, and there is no legal reason for the board to be concerned. The  only issue with regard to ownership of the unit that a board needs to be  concerned with would be for purposes of providing notices to the new unit  owner. For example, in Massachusetts, M.G.L. c. 183 A, § (4) states:  

 “Each unit owner shall provide to the organization of unit owners and to each  mortgagee holding a recorded mortgage upon the unit, within sixty days of the  effective date of this subsection or at the time of acquisition of title to the  unit, whichever comes later, written notice of the unit owner’s name and mailing address. Thereafter, the unit owner shall provide written  notice to the organization and said mortgagees of any changes in the name or  mailing address previously provided by the unit owner. The organization and  mortgagees may rely in good faith upon the most recent notice of name and  address for the purpose of providing notices to the unit owner under this  chapter or under provisions of the loan documents or condominium documents, and  such notices sent in writing to the address listed in the most recent notice of  name and address, if relied upon in good faith, shall be deemed sufficiently  given, provided that the organization or mortgagee, as the case may be, has  complied with other requirements, if any, of this chapter and the loan or  condominium documents.”  

 “As such pursuant to this section of the statute the association will have a  defense to any unit owner claiming they did not receive, for example, a notice  of deficiency as part of lien enforcement action to the extent said unit owner  failed to provide the association with updated contact information. Absent the  unit owner providing this information the association may rely on that  information provided in the deed, as Massachusetts is known as what is commonly  referred to as a ‘record notice state’.”