Townhouses are an architectural style involving homes built in an attached row. They are usually more narrowly built than traditional single-family homes are. Often, they are two to three stories high and share one or two walls with other houses. Sometimes they have a backyard and a front yard. Unlike many condominiums, they are not simply apartment units within a complex. If you are buying or selling a townhouse, you should retain an experienced Boston real estate lawyer to advise you on the full ramifications of the purchase or sale. At Pulgini & Norton, we can review the paperwork and advise you on your options.Understanding How Townhouses Function
Townhouses are a common architectural choice for homeownership in Massachusetts and elsewhere. Often, they are sold as condominiums, following the legal requirements of the Condominium Act. When a townhouse is structured as a condominium, the owner only owns their structure, while the condominium homeowners' association owns common areas surrounding the property, such as recreational facilities or landscaped areas.
An owner of a townhouse that is structured as a condominium should be aware of the condominium bylaws. These will impose rules, fees, and assessments. For example, there may be rules about how many pets you may have, or whether you may smoke on the property. Usually, the owner of the townhouse must pay monthly dues to contribute to maintenance costs. When a major repair must be completed, an assessment may be levied, and each townhouse owner will need to pay their fair share.
There may be townhouses that are structured as cooperatives. In that case, the resident would not own the townhouse itself but would instead own shares in a corporation that owns the row of townhouses. Each buyer in a cooperative owns a certain number of shares that entitle them to use a certain space and have access to shared facilities. Upon closing, a buyer of a cooperative gets a proprietary lease and stock certificates. Monthly fees are based on the number of shares, and they are intended to cover maintenance, repairs, and improvements, as well as any real estate taxes due on the underlying mortgage for the row.
Instead of an association, a Board of Directors would be elected from among the shareholders, and this Board would be authorized to approve a prospective townhouse purchaser. When a cooperative is privately owned, the owner has the right to reject prospective buyers if they believe that the co-op's quality of life would be undermined, unless the reason for this belief is based on discrimination against a protected class. There are higher risks for shareholders of a cooperative in case of a default on payments. As with a condominium, a townhouse owner in a co-op may be issued a special assessment meant to cover major repairs.Retain an Experienced Property Transaction Lawyer in Boston or Beyond
When you buy a townhouse, you are likely buying into a living arrangement that is structured for a group of people. The ownership and financial structure of the townhouse may be based on the laws related to condominiums or co-operatives. It is important to know what to expect. At Pulgini & Norton, our Boston attorneys can advise you on the purchase or sale of townhouses. Our firm handles real estate transactions in Lowell, Braintree, and Waltham, among other Massachusetts communities. For a consultation with a property transaction lawyer, contact us online or call us at 781-843-2200.