New SLG Attorney Wins Important Condominium Decision

In a case handled from inception to conclusion (including argument before the SJC) by Attorney Mark Rosen, who recently joined the Schofield Law Group, the Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that an arbitration provision contained in a condominium’s governing documents does not entitle the prevailing party to an award of attorneys’ fees and costs.

The decision, which was issued on January 7, 2016, is significant because many condominium documents include provisions which require unit owners to arbitrate any challenges to the actions or decisions of the Board of Trustees. In its fourteen-page decision, the SJC held that under such circumstances an arbitrator cannot award attorneys’ fees to a prevailing owner unless the arbitration provision specifically authorizes the awarding of such fees. The decision is significant for condominiums because it reduces the exposure of arbitration if the relevant provision is silent as to the issue of attorneys’ fees.

To learn more about this decision or to obtain a copy, please contact Mark Rosen at

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Airbnb Raises Concerns for Condominiums

The growing popularity of home-sharing services, such as Airbnb, is raising concerns for property managers and condominium associations. We often get calls from clients who want to end the flow of tourists and transients coming into their buildings. Fortunately, there are tools available to condominium associations to confront this growing problem.

For example, the condominium documents may mandate that a rental term be at least 180 days or may contain other restrictions on rentals which the condominium association could use to stop the practice. Similarly, the condominium documents may prohibit the commercial use of a unit which could be the basis for prohibiting such short-term rentals. The condominium documents may also empower the association to assess fines to owners who violate these types of provisions.

If the condominium documents do not contain any restrictions which could be applied to short-term rentals then an association may want to adopt appropriate amendments to their condominium documents. It is important to note that under Massachusetts law a restriction on the use of a unit (including rentals) must be formally adopted into the condominium’s Master Deed or Declaration of Trust/By-Laws. Many associations mistakenly believe that they can adopt rental restrictions by a simple vote of the board of trustees, but this is not sufficient under the law.

We can help an association to understand its rights and powers with respect to short-term rentals and, if necessary, to prepare, adopt, and record appropriate amendments to the condominium documents.