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July 2012 Archives

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors: The Fence Laws in Boston

Maybe you just got a new dog and want to be sure that it doesn't run into the street, or you want to worry less about your kids. Whatever the reason, fences are certainly a help when it comes to keeping things in or out of your yard.

As fences can be used for good, they can also be used for evil, or at least perceived evil. That's why when you build that fence you need to be sure that you are following the laws regarding fences. Otherwise, you could face having to tear it down, or even civil liability in extreme cases.

Toxic Mold: Who's Responsible? Landlord or Tenant?

It's the question on every renter's mind: is it my landlord's fault? Sure, there are questions about paying rent and making sure the security deposit is repaid. But really, you are more concerned if you can get the landlord to make the place warmer, or cooler, or freshly painted.

One of those nagging questions comes up when there is the discovery of mold growing in the apartment. This is not to say you've left a slice of University Pizza in the fridge for too long and there is mold on it. That's your fault, you that forget to eat pizza. No, we are talking about toxic mold that grows where there is a lot of moisture in the house or apartment.

This mold can be found on wood or wallpaper, in the attic or in the basement, or under the kitchen sink. But who is responsible for cleaning it up?

Think the Hub is Pricey? Try London

We all love to complain about how Boston has one of the highest priced real estate markets in the country. We try and console ourselves that it is hard to get housing here because the economy in Massachusetts is so much better than the rest of the country.

With the Olympics on everybody’s mind and the opening ceremonies, did a comparison of Boston real estate and similar properties in London, England. The comparison had waterfront property, single-family homes, apartments, and everything in between. If you think that a two-bedroom condo with 900+ square feet is expensive at $250,000, the 645 square feet two-bedroom flat in London for $425,000 should put things in perspective for you.

How are these places valued?

Protesters Push for Law to Prevent Foreclosure in Mass Legislature

The housing crisis in the United States has affected every market in the country. Massachusetts has been no exception. The amount of foreclosures has put many families out of their dream homes. Now state legislatures are enacting laws to help people stay in those homes.

This week protesters gathered in front of the State House on the day that a legislative conference committee is expected to decide on key measures of a law meant to prevent foreclosures, reports the Boston Herald. The decisions required are whether to include a provision requiring mediation and an “unnecessary vacancies” provision.

Putting a Pool in the Backyard? Better Have Your Permits

It has been hot this summer. Too hot. Excruciatingly hot. So you may have bought and installed an above-ground pool so that the kids would stop harassing you to drive them to Maine.

If you did break and get an above-ground pool to put in the backyard, you may want to take it down. The recent drowning of a 2-year-old girl in Brockton has put a spotlight on these pools because the pool in which she drowned was in violation of state and local building codes, according to the Boston Globe.

Now, building inspectors in Brockton are on the lookout for pools in violation of the code, reports WCVB-TV. Be sure your pool is up to code by following the steps below.

Booby Traps in Colorado Shooter's Apartment Serve as a Reminder

What is the best way to stop intruders from getting into your house, apartment, or vacant building? Some folks have used booby traps for home protection. Take the extreme example of how the alleged Colorado shooter armed his apartment.

Suspected shooter James Holmes set trip wires and magnetic switches that would start a fire and explode mortar shells, according to the New York Daily News. This type of trap was meant to destroy the apartment and anyone in it. It was, essentially, an elaborate spring gun.

There is a long history of real estate law based on deadly protection of one's property. But the current state of Massachusetts law around deadly force to protect your property has evolved.

Potholes in Boston? Just Call Local Gov't Like the Governor Did

You know the one, that hole in the road that can swallow your tire whole. It's the gaping chasm that has neighbors swerving into the other lane to avoid. Who knows when avoiding one disruption may cause a traffic collision?

Governor Deval Patrick had a similar problem near his home in the Berkshires, so he did what anyone would do and called up the town authorities to have them fix the potholes, reports the Boston Herald. Sure, he may have been persuasive with an "I'm the Governor" line, or dropping the hint that the First Lady will be visiting town soon. The long and the short of it is that he got the road fixed.

What about fixing a pothole in Boston? Can it be fixed so easily?

Bat Disrupts Sudbury Zoning Meeting; Upset about Habitat Change?

Some public entity board meetings allow for the public to attend and even provide comment. But what do you do when you are unable to speak?

In the case of the Sudbury Zoning Board, it seemed as though there was a member of the community that wanted to discuss the townhouse plan on the Johnson Farm. This in only one far-fetched idea of why a bat would disrupt the Sudbury zoning meeting, as it did recently, according to the Boston Globe.

Why would a bat, or a person for that matter, want to comment at a zoning board meeting?

How to Get Your Boston Landlord to Make Repairs

Say you’ve been living in your apartment for a while, and all of a sudden the heat goes out. Not to mention that it is February and it is wicked cold.

This is a classic case of a repair that your landlord not only should make, but is actually required by law to make. There are only certain repairs that landlords must make, but they are important to your well-being. Read on and find out what these repairs are and what you can do if they are not being fixed.

Framingham's General Chem. to be Liable for Cleanup; Nuisance?

On Monday, the Framingham Board of Health voted to hold General Chemical Corp. legally responsible for cleaning up their hazardous waste facility that is scheduled to close within the next year, reports General Chemical is a New Jersey-based company that has operated its waste facility despite complaints regarding health concerns from the community for many years.

The 2-acre plant property is located in a densely populated area and is practically a stone's throw from Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, according to The vote put into place deadlines for General Chemical to submit plans for closing the plant, as well as new limitations on the operations of the plant while it winds down. One of these limitations is that the plant must stop all activity if strange odors or other nuisances are detected.

This raises the question of what exactly a nuisance is.

Property Damage Caused by Conn. Cessna Crash: Who Pays?

As a property owner, have you ever woken up after a good night's sleep to find that someone has torn up your lawn by driving over it? Perhaps someone drove over your property and ran over your prize rose bushes.

If you are lucky enough to own a lot of property, you could be unlucky enough to have a small plane crash land in your field, causing all kinds of damage. This is what happened to a property owner in North Stonington, Connecticut when a single-engine Cessna crash landed in the property owner's corn field, reports The Associated Press.

So, will the pilot, Andrew Sterns, be liable for the damage to the owner's corn crop?

Mass. Lead Laws: No Avoiding Upgrades by Denying Families

Landlords are sometimes in the tough position of needing to upgrade rental units but not having the capital to do all of the upgrades that they want. In this situation, the decision is usually based on what upgrades are required by law first, with the rest put on the back burner until more money comes in.

Some landlords tried to do this, but also tried to avoid even the legally mandated upgrades by denying families with children from renting their apartments, reports LegalNewsline. These landlords had rental properties that still had lead paint. So instead of fixing it when a family moved in as required by the Massachusetts lead laws, they refused the family.

Best Squares in Cambridge and Somerville: Property Value Booster? is running a poll to determine which Square in Cambridge and Somerville is the best. The site profiled each notable Square in the towns and is allowing readers to rank them.

Squares are neighborhood centers and have a sway on property values because of their commercial enterprises and local flavor. If there is not a huge sway on property values, it is at least one factor to take into consideration when deciding where to live. So what else should you consider?

South Boston Drug Problem Also Problem for Landlords

It is not a surprise to hear about drug problems in a metropolitan area. That was original basis for the U.S. Government's "War on Drugs." What might be a surprise is what liabilities and duties a landlord has when it comes to drugs on their property.

Recently in South Boston, there has been a rash of overdoses as state and federal law enforcement increased arrests in Southie, reports the Boston Herald. The number of monthly overdosing victims has doubled its 2011 rate to 90 in May 2012.

Are Boston Landlords Required to Provide Air Conditioning?

It is summer. It is hot. You know this. After the record heat in June, it looks like the rest of the summer will be the proverbial "scorcher." You may have some trips to the beach lined up to beat the heat, but what about back at home?

If you rent your place, you might be asking "is my landlord responsible to provide air conditioning?" because you want them to be. You know the landlord isn't responsible for the kiddie-pool filled with ice and beer you've set up to keep cool, but what about that AC?