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June 2012 Archives

What if Your Neighbors Stage Their Own Summer Music Festival?

It's finally summer, and with summer come summer music festivals like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. It also means that people are outside enjoying the weather and creating festivals of their own.

But what if your neighbor's backyard summer festival gets out of hand and is destroying your relaxing afternoon?

If you can't convince them to go to one of the music festivals going on in New England, you might have some legal remedies.

Brookline Bear in Your Backyard; What Can You Do?

This summer there have been all sorts of reports of wild animals running about in towns and cities. We all have heard about the Brookline Bear that was so famous he got his own twitter handle. Then there was the Wellesley Moose that had residents screaming for someone to "just get it," according to the Boston Globe.

It was even suspected that the Brookline Bear was the same bear that chilled out on the Cape for a few weeks chomping on cranberries before being relocated, reports WHDH-TV. With all this wildlife around, what can you do about it?

Sea Level Rising on East Coast; What About Beachfront Property?

A new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study has found that a stretch of Atlantic coastline, starting in Hatteras, North Carolina and ending in Boston is seeing faster sea-level rise than the rest of the world, according to the Boston Herald. This rise will cause and has caused more damage in less severe storms than in the past. For example, you saw the flooding that happened earlier in June.

This study follows another by the National Research Council that predicts sea levels will rise as much as one foot in twenty years, according to the Herald. However alarming those numbers are, the USGS study is based on an historical trend of sea-rise over the past 20 years, regardless of the cause, which means that there will likely be a continued rise that will change the beachfront property landscape and the value of your beach cottage.

Boston Convention Center Hotels Opposed by Fort Point Residents

There is a pending measure in the state Legislature that would allow for the development of hotels near Boston's convention center in the Fort Point area, according to Boston.com. The proposed bill would create more hotel rooms for the convention center, which is said to be losing business because of its limited amount of nearby hotels.

Residents are concerned about the potential for living in the shadows of giant hotel towers, where today there are unlimited views of the sky, according to Boston.com. Residents have also mentioned that they would be more comfortable with development if there was a master plan that would spell out exactly how the hotels would fit into the overall growth of the neighborhood.

One solution that the neighbors can look into is obtaining solar easements.

Mass Court Tightens New MERS Foreclosures; No Help for Old Ones

Massachusetts’ highest court ruled recently that lenders using the Mortgage Electronic Recording System (MERS) can’t legally seize property unless they or their affiliate actually holds the loan at the time of foreclosure, reports the Boston Herald. The bad news is that the court decided not to make the ruling apply retroactively.

This means that the thousands of foreclosures that occurred in the past seem like they will continue to be valid, according to the Herald. The court’s decision not to apply the ruling to old foreclosures was based on the possibility that it would “cloud” all of the titles that have been transferred since the practice of trading mortgages began, reports the Banker & Tradesman.

What does this mean to current homeowners?

Historic Building Regulation Limits Your Options After Purchase

Boston is full of historic buildings. It would be hard not to when your city has been around for almost 400 years. Boston has also escaped being burned or been shaken to the ground, and even made it through multiple wars, unlike other cities affected by loose cows or mother nature. The only fire to get the label "great fire" by The New York Times, burned one building in 1864.

For this reason, there are many homes and buildings that survive from the American Revolution and through the history of the United States. Many of these buildings have been repurposed multiple times, reports Boston.com. You may notice in the Boston.com story that the buildings have not changed on the outside, even though the business has changed significantly. The reason is because of the historic building regulation and limitations that are imposed on these buildings.

Swimming Holes Beat the Heat, But Think Before You Make One

There’s nothing worse than being outside in the city when it hits 90, let alone the triple digit temperatures that are forecast for this summer. Of course the best way to deal with the heat (besides driving to Maine) is to find one of the best swimming holes around the area.

What do you know, there’s actually a list of the 10 best swimming holes in Massachusetts, provided by Boston.com. These places to get wet are widely varied and span the entire state, giving you options for wide open water or secluded river spots.

Perhaps you have a place in the country and would like a swimming hole. But, if you are thinking of creating your very own beat the heat swimming hole, read on about your potential liabilities.

There's No Dancing Ban in Boston, But You Better Have a License

OK, so the rumor that there is a dancing ban in Boston is false. Especially after the Licensing Board for the City of Boston released a special statement specifically addressing the fact that there is no ban on dancing.

According to the Board's statement, the rumors were based on bloggers' constant comparison of the Board's actions to the movie "Footloose" and news stories such as the recent Boston Herald article reporting on the Licensing Board's harsh crackdown on bars that do not have the proper license for dancing, as opposed to the relative leniency shown to bars and clubs that have the license, yet end up with fights and other violence.

These harsher penalties have been occurring since 2010, reports the Herald. So what is the deal?

Worst Cities for Renters: Boston is Number 5

Forbes recently released its list of the best and worst cities for renters, and you guessed it, Boston was smack dab in the middle of the worst at number 5. Forbes used statistics like the yearly increase in rent and how many rental properties were left available to determine its list.

Number one was, of course, New York City for worst, with Tucson, Arizona being the best for renters.

Boston has an average monthly rent of $1,752 that tends to increase 2% per year, according to Forbes. Also, in the first part of 2012, out of the total number of rental properties, only 3.8% were left open for new tenants.

Boston Housing Prices on the Rise, Selling a Home Soon?

It seems like forever ago that there was good news about Boston housing prices. For the past 6 years all that was reported was the market was tanking. Finally, there are reports that show a trend of rising home prices in the Boston area that are better for selling a home, according to the Boston Globe.

The upswing is caused by a recent increase in home sales, rising rents, and lower amounts of available properties, reports the Globe.

Weapons Seizure in Brookline: Can Your Landlord Do the Same?

Police have seized a cache of weapons in Brookline after executing a search warrant on a Harvard Street home. Resident Richard Becker was then arrested and was set to appear in court June 12, according to WBZ-TV.

Becker had 36 guns, many of which were high powered rifles, along with armor-piercing ammunition, according to Boston.com. Police reported that they had gathered evidence of the cache over the three days preceding the bust.

If this had been a landlord-tenant situation, could the landlord have just walked in to discover the guns or would that breach the tenant's rights?

Vacation Rental Scams: Watch for More Than Just Fake Listings

Are you planning of getting out of the city this summer? Maybe as soon as the Celtics finish their quest for the championship this year, whether that's sooner or later. Like some of those ref's calls, there are some other scams that you should watch out for, reports the Boston Globe.

It's becoming pretty well known that the advent of online listings for vacation rentals meant that there would be some online scams aimed at people trying to get away from it all. The true problem is that as time goes on, the scammers get more sophisticated with their listings, according to the Globe.

The Globe goes on to give you tips to avoid the tricks of the underhanded thieves attempting to separate you from your money, such as to avoid Western Union payments, to avoid offers that seem too good to be true, and to visit property before paying (if you go through Craigslist or other private rentals). However, even if the rental is legit, be sure to check the fine print in your vacation rental agreement.

Landlady Doesn't Want Guardsman Renting Her Apartment

This past April, Sgt. Joel Morgan was trying to rent an apartment, when his status as a National Guardsman got in the way, reports the Boston Herald. The Herald reports that what had been a nice interaction with landowner Janice Roberts and the two-bedroom apartment she was showing, ended up with Roberts leaving Morgan a voicemail that prompted some outrage.

The Herald gained access to the voicemail and reports that Roberts told Morgan that he should not rent her apartment because it was not going to be comfortable for Roberts to have a soldier rent from her because of her political beliefs.

Elizabeth Warren Misrepresentation: What if She Sold a Home?

Elizabeth Warren has been in the hot seat recently for the revelation that she claimed Native American ancestry without supporting documents, reports the Boston Herald. The Herald also reported that Native Americans protested the June 2nd state Democratic nominating convention.

The Boston Globe reports that the Warren campaign was surprised by the revelation that she had claimed the ancestry, noting that the researchers hired to find facts like this did not warn them. Since the revelations, Warren has attempted to calm her supporters by asking "what kid asks their grandparents for legal documentation to go along with their family stories?" according to the Globe.

This whole ruckus has got us thinking about misrepresentations, especially in real estate.

What Effect Will the DOMA Ruling Have On Boston Real Estate?

Recently, the First Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal appeals court for the states of Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Puerto Rico, ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, according to the Boston Globe.

WBUR radio reports through The Associated Press that the unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel held that the law interferes with the right of a state to define marriage, and denies same-sex couples the federal benefits given to heterosexual couples.