Declaration of Trust

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Condominium conversions around Boston are popular. However, the legal documents that govern a condominium can make or break the lifestyle of the people living in the units. One legal document necessary for a condominium conversion in Massachusetts is the declaration of trust. If you are considering converting a Boston property into condominium form, the real estate lawyers at Pulgini & Norton can help you think through your plan for conversion and how best to set up governance.

The Declaration of Trust

Condominiums are governed by Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 183. There are many important considerations when drafting the legal documents that create a condominium conversion. These include the declaration of trust and bylaws, the master deed, the unit floor and site plans, and the written annual budget and fees. The master deed is usually the starting point. It must be recorded with the registry of deeds to establish a property as a condominium subject to the laws associated with condominiums. The master deed specifies what is part of the units and what is part of shared common areas, and it may impose restrictions on the use of units and rights of first refusal.

The declaration of trust can be independent, but more often it also includes the bylaws. This document creates the condominium trust association and board of trustees. These entities govern the condominium and can have a big impact on how smoothly things run from day to day, or when there are disputes between unit owners. The trustees meet periodically to discuss operations and deal with business, such as contracting for maintenance, insurance, and repairs. They also collect the monthly fees and ensure unit owners are current in their fee payments.

The needs of small condominiums may be different than the needs of a large condominium. The smaller the number of units in a condominium, the more important it may be to get unanimous voting for major concerns, as well as a mandatory arbitration clause in case a unanimous decision cannot be reached. In larger condominiums, it may be appropriate to have a "supermajority" determine issues.

The declaration of trust, if it is integrated with the bylaws, must contain any unique rules and regulations that are desired. If these are not recorded, they are not binding on the unit owners. The rules may include limitations on the number of pets, preserving architectural integrity, noise, parties, trash, satellite dishes, and other similar concerns. Failure to include a rule that you find essential can cause big problems down the road. For example, you may wish to include a restriction on the number of pets to avoid excessive barking or waste just outside the unit. Similarly, you may need to set noise restrictions after or before certain hours of the day and rules related to smoking, so that the condominium is more appealing to buyers.

Once the declaration of trust and other legal documents are drafted and recorded, you will need to sell the condominium units. The sales will require the participation of experienced attorneys as well.

Protect Your Interests in a Property Transaction by Contacting a Boston Lawyer

There is a substantial amount of work involved in a condominium conversion in Boston. It can be vital to seek guidance from a property transactions attorney who is familiar with drafting declarations of trust and bylaws. At Pulgini & Norton, we can help you with every step of the condominium conversion process. Our clients come from communities throughout the Boston area, including Quincy, Newton, and Waltham. Call us at 781-843-2200 or contact us via our online form for a consultation.