Read the latest stories and updates on how we are changing mandatory membership association-governed communities.
March 9, 2018
Press Release: Mass. Legislature Hears Condominium Owners' Concerns Over House Bill H.4167
For Immediate Release
March 9, 2018
Mass. Legislature Hears Condominium Owners' Concerns Over House Bill H.4167
Condo Reserve Fund Bill H.4167 Sent for Further Study
Massachusetts condominium owners and advocates are voicing concerns over House Bill H.4167 relative to adequate reserve funds, fearing the bill lacks explicit protections for unit owners, falls short of specifications for independent certification, and lacks regulatory measures for oversight and enforcement of reserve study firms. This can open the door for exploitation by industry self-certification schemes that bypass the rigorous government standards for competency and diligence.
Condominium owners also fear the bill would take control of major spending and operational decisions from the organization of unit owners and gives control to condominium service industry operatives such as condominium law firms, debt collectors, management companies, and construction companies with vested financial interest in the implications of this bill.
At the February 26 Hearing on the bill by the Joint Committee on Housing, Fatemeh Mojtabai a Massachusetts condominium owner, who is also the founder and president of Homeowners Alliance for Accountability, Reform, Responsibility and Transparency (HAARRT), criticized the bill’s lack of specification for the term “certified engineering firm”.
Mojtabai believes imposing on unit owners unknown and virtually unlimited assessments in the name of legally mandated reserve requirements conflicts with the provisions stipulated in the governing documents of many unit owner organizations. These documents often impose restrictions on the amount of special assessments (other than emergencies),and require majority beneficiary unit owner approval for significant repairs and improvements.
Mojtabai also believes H.4167 may have far reaching consequences. Legislating unsubstantiated funding plans determined by external entities, in the absence of rigorous regulatory standards for diligence and competency, as proposed by this bill will not only harm unit owners but it can also adversely impact the entire Massachusetts condominium market. She addressed these broader concerns in a follow-up email on March 1st to the members of the Joint Committee on Housing. It will enable some unscrupulous lawyers and debt collectors, with vested financial interests, “to exploit the funding plans to churn legal fees, impose liens and foreclose on condominium owners who get caught off guard, with arbitrary and excessive special assessments, which can be disguised as budgetary modifications subject to super priority lien and collection schemes. These schemes will lower property values and can leave many Massachusetts condominium owners homeless", she wrote.
Mojtabai’s views seem to resonate with more than 50 Massachusetts residents who have signed a petition HAARRT posted on its website on February 26, against bill H.4167.
On Friday March 2nd bill H.4167 went to study without further action, according to several sources, and is pending processing by the House Clerk.
“We applaud the Joint Committee on Housing for remaining faithful to the interests of condominium owners. We are grateful to Representative DeCoste, who together with others petitioned this bill, for considering a redraft of the bill that addresses our concerns”, said Mojtabai.
Mojtabai, along with two other Massachusetts condominium owners and advocates Carol Winsor and Donna DeCrescente have expressed a commitment to work with bill sponsors to modify the bill language in such a way that it will represent the interests of Massachusetts condominium owners.
“We want to thank the many Massachusetts condominium owners who signed our Petition Against Bill H.4167. Their voices are being heard. H.4167 as it is currently written would have a negative impact on condominium ownership, especially first-time homebuyers, elderly and disabled on fixed income", said DeCrescente, who is also a member of the HAARRT Membership Advisory Committee.
“We are thankful to the many supporters who helped make a difference. We look forward to continuing our work with sponsors of this bill and addressing other matters of concern to Massachusetts condominium owners”, said Winsor, who is also a member of the HAARRT Communications and Media Relations Advisory Committee.
This "just-in-time" grassroots effort to prevent the passage of a late-filed bill that if enacted could have harmed Massachusetts condominium owners and was fast moving through the system shows: TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE”, said Mojtabai.
HAARRT urges all Massachusetts condominium owners to join others who already signed the Petition Against H.4167 to show a strong opposition against any future modified refiled versions of this bill that can put Massachusetts condominium owners at risk of excessive financial burden.
The Homeowners Alliance for Accountability, Reform, Responsibility and Transparency (HAARRT) is a homeowner-led, national, non-partisan, non-profit, grassroots organization. We are committed to promoting homeowners’ rights and to being forceful advocates for federal and state regulation and oversight of association-governed communities. Our efforts are aimed at using people’s power to protect homeowners' rights in mandatory membership association governed communities through education, legislative action and by aggressively defending our rights in the courts.
TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Media Inquiry Contact:
Communications and Media Relations Advisory Committee
Homeowners Alliance for Accountability, Reform, Responsibility and Transparency (HAARRT)
Fatemeh Mojtabai appears as guest speaker on OTC with Shu
Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
Listen to this week's show: OTC with Shu and Fatemeh Mojtabai
Jan 18, 2018.
Washington homeowners rights advocates testify to the Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee on Senate Bill 6175.
Washington homeowners rights advocates Raelene Schifano and Joesph Mendoza testified to the Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee, expressing their opposition to passage of Washington Senate Bill 6175.
Click here to listen to a recording of their testimonies.
Oct 17, 2017.
Massachusetts condominium owners testify to the Joint Committee on Housing on several pending condominium reform bills.
Hereare the Massachusetts bills we support, and why we support them.
Florida Legislature unanimously passes the Florida House Bill 1237, also known as the "Florida Condo Crime Bill".
Here you can find Florida Bills we support or oppose,read bill summaries, gain access to bill full text and more...
Feb 06, 2017.
Miami-Dade Grand Jury Report: Addressing Condo Owners’ Pleas for Help: Recommendations for Legislative Help | PDF Report
The Florida House Bill 1237 and the ensuing condo law reforms are substantially based on a final report by a Miami-Dade County grand jury, titled, Addressing Condo Owners’ Pleas for Help: Recommendations for Legislative Action.The grand jury found that the existing statutes do not sufficiently restrict self-dealing by members of the boards of condominiums or sufficiently deter other forms of misconduct such as election fraud. Additionally, the grand jury found that the existing statutory mechanisms are insufficient to force condominium associations to make their official records available to unit owners in a timely manner.