The latest on real estate recordings and new technology from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds in Lowell
A website user posed an interesting (and hypothetical) question via email over the weekend: Does an existing homestead protect the owner of a condominium from an action by the condominium association to collect unpaid condo fees? It’s a question that I’d never considered and I have not researched case law to find any decisions on point, but a close reading of applicable laws gives some clues. Chapter 188, section 1 sets out the exemptions to homestead protection. They are unpaid taxes, a debt contracted prior to the acquisition of the homestead, a debt contracted for the purchase of the home, child support, or “a judgment based on fraud, mistake, duress, undue influence or lack of capacity.” No mention of a condo lien there. But the condo lien is a type of super-lien that still may supercede the homestead. For instance, Chapter 183A, Section 6 specifically states (among many other things) that “Recording of the master deed constitutes record notice and perfection of this lien; no further recordation of any claim of lien for assessment under this section is required. I guess that means that the lien exists even before the individual unit is sold by the developer of the condominium but that the lien only becomes funded by the failure to pay fees when due. Under that interpretation, the condo lien would fall within one of the homestead exemptions (“a debt contracted prior to the acquisition of the homestead”). If this exception does apply, then the condo lien is entirely outside the homestead and actions to enforce it would not be barred.
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