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Real Estate Q&A

Commercial lease terms and security deposit

Additional Info: I’ve recently exited a commercial lease in Brookline in good standing, however the landlord has sent a letter indicating there are deficiency repairs that I deem unreasonable (amount ~$10k) for an 1 year lease of monthly rent $2.3k. I find that unreasonable and would like to know what consequences I would face if I decide simply not to comply.  Would I need to hire an attorney to represent me? Attorney Answer: In virtually

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Can a new owner of a commercial property break a lease of a current tenant once the sale is final?

Additional Info: We are looking into purchasing a building in Newton that is zoned commercial to use for our business. The current owner just signed a 3-year lease with the lessee that is currently occupying the building. Can we make an offer on the property contingent upon negotiating to have the current tenants vacate? Or do the current tenants have legal rights to stay through their lease term? Attorney Answer: A purchaser of commercial real

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We’d like to convert a Chestnut Hill property to condominiums.

Additional Information: Do I need a special permit to convert a 4 unit apartment building in Chestnut Hill into condos? ATTORNEY ANSWER: No – but if you are in Brookline you need to file a copy of the Master Deed with the Town – assessor and Building Department and complete a condominium conversion certificate.  

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Property zoned as 3 unit multi family dwelling, can we convert to 4 condos?

Additional Information: My wife and I are considering buying an investment property in Newton.  It is zoned as a multi family dwelling with 3 separate units.  We are considering buying it and building out the fourth floor to create 4 units, and then converting into 4 condominiums.  Is this doable? ATTORNEY ANSWER: The first step is to check with the Newton Building Department to determine if the specific property can be converted into 4 units. 

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We’re considering converting Watertown duplex into condos.

Additional  Information: What are some of the benefits of converting to condos?  My brother and I inherited a duplex in Watertown and we’re considering converting them to condos.  We may or may not move into the respective units and wondering if the benefits outweigh the expense.  ATTORNEY ANSWER: It depends upon the real estate market in your area –  in some places conversion into condos is a good economic move and in others it is

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How do you go about converting apartment building in Cambridge into condos?

Additional Information: I currently live in an apartment in Cambridge.  The apartment is in my grandmother’s 4 unit building where I pay rent. If she wanted to convert the units to condos, what are the steps she would need to take? Can she convert one at a time or is it best to convert all 4 at once? ATTORNEY ANSWER: You cannot convert a building into condominiums without converting all apartments.  The first step in

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Difference between real estate attorney and commercial real estate attorney?

Additional Information: My business partner and I are about to buy a commercial office building in Roslindale and I’d like to use a friend who is a real estate closing attorney.  Are there really that many differences between a commercial real estate deal and buying a house? ATTORNEY ANSWER: Yes there are differences –  If the attorney in question, no matter how much of a friend,  is not generally familiar with commercial transactions, I would

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What are some common challenges in a commercial real estate deal?

Additional Information: I am about to sign a P & S for commercial property in the South End.  What are some of the common pitfalls involving a commercial real estate deal? ATTORNEY ANSWER: First thing I suggest is the buyer find out if there are existing tenants in the building, if so are they subject to lease agreements and for how long and of course what is the rent being collected.  A review of all

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Can I get my restaurant back and void the purchase and sale agreement?

Additional Information: I sold my Watertown restaurant for $25k (building not included) and have a signed sales agreement showing the purchaser agreed to pay $1000 per month. So far, the purchaser has only paid $800 and refuses to pay anymore. They are not doing well with the business and are saying I misrepresented what the restaurant was worth.  It kills me to see the restaurant not doing well, when it was thriving when my family

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Should I hire my own attorney for a restaurant purchase?

Additional Information: I am about to purchase a restaurant in Jamaica Plain from real estate brokers and they are proposing to be the agents for the restaurant sale transaction.  They’ve presented the restaurant’s operating expenses and income and positive cash flow.  Should I bring in my own attorney to help me purchase this restaurant? ATTORNEY ANSWER: I would strongly recommend hiring an attorney to assist you.  For starters you want to have someone review the

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In a restaurant lease, what is a typical permit contingency clause?

Additional Information: I’m about to open a restaurant and will do some renovations before opening.  In a standard restaurant lease, what is a typical permit contingency clause?   If I’m unable to get permits to do the necessary renovations, what kind of notice would I need to give in order to get out of the lease?   I am working with a well regarded Boston restaurant architect and he has great ideas, just not sure the permits

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Does the restaurant owner or landlord provide liability insurance?

Additional Information: I am hopefully going to open my first restaurant in the Greater Boston area and have just reviewed the lease. Who typically covers liability insurance? The restaurant owner or the landlord, or both?  If a customer falls and injures him/herself, and I don’t have my own liability insurance, wouldn’t I be at risk if the restaurant got sued for personal injury? ATTORNEY ANSWER: The landlord typically insures the commercial property for loss due

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Can we get out of selling our condo in Newton?

Additional Information: My husband and I have already signed a contract to sell our condo in Newton.  However, we have since changed our minds and no longer want to sell. What can we do to get out of selling our home? ATTORNEY ANSWER: Having signed a valid contract, your options may be limited.  The sooner you approach a buyer or buyers the better.  Some sellers approach a prospective buyer with the truth, offer to reimburse

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Can I record a declaration of Homestead for my 3 family in Brookline?

Additional Information: I own a three family home in Brookline, Massachusetts and I want to record a declaration of homestead. I live in one of the units and rent out the other two. Can I do that? Will the declaration of homestead be effective? Does it matter that I live in the home? ATTORNEY ANSWER: As an owner occupant you may file a declaration of homestead, which will provide protection from creditors.  The declaration of

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I live in a condo in the Greater Boston area and my unit has been damaged.

Additional Information: There was a fire in a neighbor’s condo unit and there was resulting water damage to my unit.  I received an estimate from the Association’s Insurance company and am not satisfied with the estimate since it does not provide adequate compensation to cover expenses for necessary repairs.  What should I do to get better settlements? ATTORNEY ANSWER: First review the condominium documents and the insurance policy.  If possible, you may need to make

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Our Boston condo association is foreclosing on a unit.

Additional Information: Our Boston condo association has recently filed papers to foreclose on a condo in our building for unpaid condo fees. The unit is owned by an LLC and the tenants are asking for a new key to be made because they lost it. As an association can we deny this request? What services do we have to offer if they are not paying their fees? ATTORNEY ANSWER: I would advise any condominium association

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I’m considering buying a restaurant in Brookline.

Additional Information: Can a lawyer help me valuate the business or would I need to seek out a business consultant for that?  Also, isn’t it pretty standard for the purchase agreement to contain language that allows an “out” for the buyer if the lease agreement isn’t satisfactory? Isn’t my application for liquor license contingent upon having a lease? ATTORNEY ANSWER: Generally an attorney is not the person to determine the value of a business.  An

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Is there any case law in Massachusetts regarding HOAs fining it’s residents?

Additional Information: My HOA is fining residents, but there is no statutory authority to do so. Condos are authorized to levy reasonable fines, but HOAs are not subject to GL 183a.  Is there any case law here? My understanding is that HOAs are fining their residents all over Massachusetts. ATTORNEY ANSWER: If the Condominium Association has by-laws and or rules and regulations which provide for fines in the event of a violation, I believe they

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Can a homeowners association legally shut the water off to one of it’s members?

Additional Information: Can a home owners association legally shut the water off to one of it’s members for non payment of its dues for a shared well? One member owes back fees of over a thousand dollars for their part of a shared well, can the water use be legally shut off to them for non payment by the association? ATTORNEY ANSWER: No, this is called “self-help” and is not allowed.  If the Association or

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Seller has requested an extension of thirty days. What happens if we don’t agree?

Additional Information: The seller is unable to find a replacement property by the time the sixty day escrow closes. They have requested an extension of thirty days. If we do not agree to that extension, will we lose the appraisal fee, the home inspection fee, and our deposit? ATTORNEY ANSWER: Most Purchase and Sale contracts oblige the seller to close unless for some reason such as a tenant in the premises or a title issue. 

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