Converting Rental To Condos

Converting Rental To Condos

QUESTION:


How soon do landowners have to notify tenants if they plan to convert a rental building into condos?

We rent an apartment in a multi-family complex, and we think the new owner of the complex has plans to convert the building into condos. We have written to the new owners to ask about their plans to see whether we have to make plans to move, but we have received no response.

We understand that in Somerville, Massachusetts, the property owners are required to give one year notice in a condo conversion before we have to move. We are not sure when that one year begins. Is it when the Master Deed is filed with the Registry of Deeds or when papers are filed with the Condo Board in our area?

ANSWER:


Massachusetts law has various provisions that help protect tenants in condo conversion situations. According to state law:

  • Landowners must serve a notice of intent to each tenant, informing the tenants that they intend to convert the property into condo units and have filed a master deed or are converting the building into a co-op.
  • The tenant has either one year or until the end of their lease – depending on which period is greater – to move from the property.
  • The tenant has the right to buy their own unit for up to three months (90 days) after being given a purchase and sale agreement by the owner. The owner must sign the sale agreement, and this agreement must have terms that are as good or better than the conditions and terms of sale being offered to the general public.

What rights are granted to tenants by the Somerville, Massachusetts Condominium Review Board?

In Somerville specifically, a property owner who wants to convert a rental property into condominium units needs to file an “Application for Condominium Conversion and Removal of Rental Units from the Market” (the “Application”) with the Condominium Review Board.

The Application is filed with the Condominium Review Board (the “Board”) and, in part, requires that an applicant attest to the following:

“I have complied with the notice requirements of Section 7 of the Condominium Conversion Ordinance 1985-9; namely

At least one year before the master deed is filed, notice must be given to the Condominium Review Board and each tenant in the housing accommodation of the intention to file an application to convert the housing accommodation to condominium units.

For buildings which have already been converted, at least one years notice must be given to the tenant of the unit the owner’s intention to recover possession of the premises (at least a two year notice in the case of a rental unit occupied in whole or in part by a handicapped, elderly, or low or moderate income tenant).

All notices to tenants must be personally served by a process server or sent by certified mail, return receipt requested.

The terms of the tenancy may not be altered during any notice period required by the ordinance.

To the best of my knowledge, neither the declarant or his/her predecessors in title have violated Section 12 of the ordinance by interrupting or discontinuing essential services in any dwelling or in the common area of the housing accommodation.” Application, Affidavit B, City of Somerville.

Note that every case is unique so contact a knowledgeable condominium lawyer to discuss of your specific case in order to acquire an accurate assessment of your rights.

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