Real Cases in Real Estate by Andrea Lee Negroni, Esq. – November 22nd, 2011 Update

Real Cases in Real Estate by Andrea Lee Negroni, Esq. – November 22nd, 2011 Update

Real Cases in Real Estate is a weekly update on real estate law, with legal principles illustrated and explained by lawsuits from around the country. The topics are wide-ranging for appeal to a broad spectrum of readers including lawyers, homeowners, investors and the general public. Andrea Lee Negroni, a Washington DC attorney and legal writer with 25 years of experience in financial services and mortgage law, contributes the case summaries.

Followers of Real Cases in Real Estate will learn and be entertained by lawsuits involving nuisance, trespass, zoning violations, deed restrictions, title insurance, public utilities, mechanics liens, construction defects, adverse possession, foreclosure and eviction, divorce and marital property rights, tenants' rights, and more. Real Cases in Real Estate uncovers the unpredictable, amusing, and sometimes outrageous disputes between next-door neighbors, contractors and homeowners, condo boards and residents, real estate brokers and homebuyers, and zoning administrators and developers.

Each fully cited case summary highlights the essential law of the case and explains the principal legal theories and concepts relevant to the outcome. Plain language treatment makes Real Cases in Real Estate accessible to lawyers and laymen alike.

Whether you follow real estate law professionally or as a hobby, you'll find something new and useful every week in Real Cases in Real Estate.


Updates for the Week of November 22nd, 2011

Massachusetts Lodging House Licensing System Makes No Exception for Unrelated College Students.

The owners of several multi-unit properties appealed from judgments of the Housing Court ordering them not to allow more than three unrelated adults to live in a single dwelling unit. State law defines a "lodging house" as a house with lodgings for four or more persons who are not "within the second degree of kindred" to the person conducting the lodging house.  The property owners claimed the adults living in their units, unrelated college students, were living as "families" or "single housekeeping units."

Fines of $1,500 to $7,300 were imposed by the trial court against the owners of the houses for violation of the lodging house licensing law. Massachusetts' lodging house licensing law is designed to regulate such houses for health and sanitary conditions and to prevent overcrowding in unsuitable spaces. Licensed lodging houses must have sprinkler systems for fire protection, but the houses let to the students did not.

The owners claimed that because the student tenants lived in family-like situations, they were not "lodgers." However, the appeals court explained that it is not the status of the occupants (as students, lodgers or family members) that governed the case - the decisive issue is the meaning of the law involved, in this case, the licensed lodging act. "Ad hoc group housing arrangements" among four or more unrelated persons do not lend themselves to the formation of durable and stable households, and treating them as such would undermine a law designed to assure that lodging houses are safe, sanitary, habitable and orderly.

City of Worcester v. College Hill Properties, 2011 Mass. App. LEXIS 1389 (November 8, 2011). [enhanced version available to subscribers]

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