Thursday, February 26, 2015

Finding "condo docs" online

We've received a number of phone calls at the registry of deeds from individuals who own condominiums that have been damaged by water infiltrating their units from melting snow.  While this unfortunate condition affects homeowners of all types, condominium units have an added complication from the nature of a condominium.

When a condominium is established, each unit within the building is owned outright by an individual.  Common areas such as the roof, the entryway and the parking area are owned in common by all of the unit owners.  The association of condominium owners is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of these common areas.  Insurance coverage is similarly split.  The association obtains insurance for common areas and individuals obtain insurance for their units. 

The people calling us have made claims for property damage to their units against their own insurers.  Those insurers have pushed back, asking for some documentation that establishes where the common areas end and the individual units begin. So called condo docs are most likely to do delineate this boundary (although as is often the case with legal matters, something that seems clear might be anything but).

So what are "condo docs"?  Massachusetts General Laws chapter 183A governs condominiums.  It says that the owner may designate a building to be a condominium by recording a document called a Master Deed.  That's probably an unfortunate term because unlike most other deeds, a Master Deed does not convey an interest in the property from one person to another.  Instead, it deals with the usage of the property.  The Master Deed identifies and delineates - usually with a floor plan - the dimensions and location of each individual condominium unit.  The Master Deed also designates what percentage of the common areas attributable to each unit.  for example, if a condominium consists of four equally sized units, each unit would own 25% of the common areas.

The second "condo docs" is usually the Declaration of Trust that creates the condo association.  This document also sets out all the procedural rules to be followed by the condo association such as electing trustees and other administrative functions.  Sometimes the Declaration of Trust is embedded within the Master Deed so there's only a single document. 

Unfortunately, both the Master Deed and Declaration of Trust are lengthy documents.  This is unfortunate because if you come to the registry of deeds to obtain a copy, we're obligated by statute to charge you $1 per page.  However, if you download and print the documents from our website, you can do it for free.

To find condo docs on our website, go to and select "search land records" in the yellow box in the middle of the page.  When the search window appears, type the name of the condominium in the "last name" field.  For example, if you live in the Sunny Acres Condominium, just type SUNNY ACRES and click "search."  From the results retrieved, scroll down the "document type" column looking for Master Deed and Declaration of Trust.  Once you've found them, follow the on-screen instructions to display the image.  Rather than print the image directly from the site, we recommend using the "basket" function to download the entire document in a PDF format which is easier to store, email or print.

If you have any questions about locating condominium documents, send us an email at


Monday, February 09, 2015

Registry of Deeds closed on Tuesday

The Trial Court has closed all courts in Middlesex County (among others) for tomorrow, so the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds will be closed for the day. 

Here's the full announcement from the Trial Court:

Closure and Delay Information for Tuesday 2/10

Last updated at February 09, 2015 06:40 PM
Based on varying conditions across the state, Massachusetts courts will operate as follows on Tuesday,  February 10th :

Courts in Barnstable, Dukes, Nantucket Counties, and in the four western counties of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire, will open regular hours.

In Bristol, Plymouth, and Worcester Counties, courts will delay opening until 10 a.m.

And in Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, and Suffolk Counties, courts will be closed in accordance with Governor Baker's statement of emergency conditions and the lack of public transportation in those areas.

Registry of Deeds closed due to snow

Last evening the Massachusetts Trial Court announced that all courts in the state except those on the Cape and Islands would be closed all day today due to the ongoing snowstorm.  As is always the case, when the courts close, the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds closes also.  Given the forecast, we expect to be open for business on Tuesday.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Lowell: The Hottest Town in Massachusetts?

A report on CBS Boston yesterday listed Lowell as the hottest town in Massachusetts in terms of an increase in volume of home sales from 2013 to 2014.  The basis of that headline was a report issued by McGeough Lamacchia Realty Inc which said this about Lowell:

Lowell tops our list with 955 home sales for 2014, an increase of 9.5% compared to 2013 when there were 864 sales. Lowell is an affordable place to live with a median price for a home at $202,000, an increase of 6.3% compared to 2013. Lowell is a busy community located in Middlesex County at the intersections of Routes 3 and 495, making it an excellent commuter location. It’s just 45 minutes by car to Worcester, roughly an hour and a half to both Hartford, Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island, and 45 minutes to Boston. Lowell has open recreational space and parks, as well as cultural attractions such as events taking place at the Tsongas Center on the UMass Lowell campus in-town. The population of Lowell is 108,522, an increase of 1.7% since 2000. The residential tax rate in Lowell is $15.48 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Our own statistics from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds do show an increase in the number of deeds for consideration (as opposed to deeds for no consideration) recorded.  In 2013, there were 1125 deeds recorded for property in Lowell with consideration greater than $49,999 and less than $750,000.  In 2014, there were 1187 that met that criteria, an increase of 6%.  That doesn't meet the 9.5% increase found by the realtors, but that might be because they were counting the sale of "homes" while registry records, which don't distinguish based on the use of the property, would have included commercial property sales as well.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Super Bowl XLIX

Since we began writing this blog back in 2003, we've made a point of doing at least one post devoted to each professional sports championship won by a Boston team.  On this past Sunday, February 1, 2015, the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX beating the Seattle Seahawk 28-24 in a dramatic come-from-behind victory with a wild finish.  The game was tied 14-14 at halftime with Seattle scoring after getting the ball back with just 29 seconds to go in the half.  Seattle got the ball to start the second half and scored a field goal and a touchdown to go up by 10 points in the third quarter.  But in the fourth quarter, the Patriots scored twice on Tom Brady passes.  Seattle got the ball back with just over 2 minutes to play.  With one pass they were at midfield.  The next pass went down near the goal line.  The Patriot’s cornerback seemed to tip the ball but when the receiver fell to the ground on his back, the ball bounced off his leg, then his stomach and while lying flat, he grabbed it.  A miracle catch, just like the one made by the New York Giants in an earlier Super Bowl against the Patriots.  On the next play, with just over a minute left, Seattle ran the ball from the five to the one yard line.  After the clock ticked down and a timeout, it was second down with just 29 seconds to go and Seattle tried a slant pass but Malcolm Butler, the same Patriot who was the victim of the miracle catch just moments earlier and a rookie undrafted free agent, stepped in front of the receiver and intercepted the ball with just 22 seconds to go.  The Patriots won and Seattle’s coach Pete Carroll is being blamed for making the most egregious mistake in football history for passing instead of running.  The Patriots flew back to Boston from Phoenix on Monday night and had a "rolling rally" victory parade of Duck Boats today in Boston.