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Massachusetts Real Estate Law Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: seller claims buyer is responsible for title 5. Seller has no records of inspection nor does the town. is this legal?

seller has no records of the original title 5 ever being completed on the property. Is it legal for the seller to sell the property without having any prior inspections done on the septic. I contacted the town records and they did not have any information on file. Is this an issue for Health and... Read more »

Timothy E. Angley
Timothy E. Angley answered on Sep 9, 2019

The Board of Health should be the ones keeping the records for a Title 5 inspection. It is legal for a sale without an inspection if the sale is to a family member. In Massachusetts, it is the SELLER who is responsible for the Title 5 inspection and if needed, repair costs. The Buyer would only... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: What is the best way to assume the deed from a family members house when they move out. Gift or buy?

My son is planning to assume the deed of his grandmother’s house which is paid for. The plan was to have them gift the house for $30,000 to my son or buy it for that amount. How would these options affect my son’s income taxes at the end of the year. The property is valued at $290,000.... Read more »

Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley answered on Aug 20, 2019

An online Q & A forum like this one is not the place for advice about the disposition of a $290,000 asset. Find a lawyer versed in tax law or an accountant you trust.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: If I am in the process of divorce, can a realtor sign me to a seller’s agreement if both of our names are on the deed?

I wasn’t really clear on what I was signing and it’s solely my name on all of the paperwork, also I wasn’t given a copy of it until after I verbally brought it up with the realtor a few days later.

Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley answered on Aug 6, 2019

Not all owners of real property are required to sign a purchase and sale agreement. So long as your spouse signs the deed at the time of closing, you will have performed under the agreement. The problem for the buyer in this situation is that it cannot compel a sale because only one of two owners... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: I was the sole caregiver for both of my ailing parents for almost 10 years. After 2 yrs,I had to sell my home and move i

with them because they required around the clock care. My dad passed 3yrs ago, and my mom died may 2018. Throughout that time, my life came to a complete halt. My Sisters continued to work, travel and live their lives. Unfortunately, my mom passed away before she put together a living trust. Me and... Read more »

Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa answered on Jul 16, 2019

This is a landlord tenant matter at this juncture as well as a probate matter. I cannot tell from the facts presented whether there was a discussion of a potential claim or whether there was and a claim filed against the estate in a timely fashion due to the statute of limitations . You need... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: Can a buyer legally back out of a purchase and sale agreement if an error exists in the listing?

Both myself and the seller have signed the P&S agreement, and I have submitted the deposit check. The home is in a rural area, and the listing states cable internet is available. I just found out there is no high speed Internet available in the area. Can I legally back out of the deal and regain... Read more »

Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley answered on Jun 24, 2019

If the listing said cable internet is available and cable internet is available, the listing is not in error. The listing does not say high speed internet access, so if that is what you need, the listing cannot form a basis for your getting out of the deal.

Nevertheless, I suggest you...
Read more »

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3 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law and Tax Law for Massachusetts on
Q: After receiving money from a house sale do i have to pay taxes on it in april or can i gift it to my wife?

My grandparents house was sold and it will be split 5 ways. After taxes and fees ill receive 42,800, will i have to pay taxes at the end of the year for it or can i gift it to my wife or use most of it as a down payment for my first house ?

If i do have to pay taxes how do i figure out... Read more »

Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley answered on Jun 7, 2019

The answer to your questions requires more time and expertise than an online forum like this can provide. You really need to consult with a tax professional like a CPA on this. It will be well worth the money you spend in fees to them.

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: Can I cede a piece of my property to the town?

My home (which I've owned 3 years) includes 3 parcels, each taxed separately: the largest, which includes the house; a small strip acquired from a neighbor to add a driveway; and - the questionable piece - is the alley behind the house. I own the part behind my house to the center of the alley. I... Read more »

Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley answered on May 17, 2019

You can give it to them, but they have to accept it. Call the town, like the town manager or the selectmen's office, and discuss it.

You can also stop paying taxes on it. The town will eventually take it for nonpayment of taxes. However, it is possible you remain personally liable for the...
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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: My mother died back in 2013. I get a bill for a loan monthly from a bank with the house that she left me as collateral.

Am I responsible to pay this bill

Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley answered on Apr 29, 2019

If you did not sign the promissory note to the bank you are not personally responsible for the payments. If the collateral document securing the loan is a mortgage, failure to make the payments will give the bank a right to foreclose the mortgage.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: Hello, would you be able to tell me if a statement of condition has to be completed at every lease renewal in MA?

a statement of condition has been completed at start of tenancy. This is for renewal of the lease, same apartment, same tenant.

Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley answered on Apr 18, 2019

Maybe it is required, maybe it isn't, but I can't think why you would not get one. If the tenant has damaged the unit or there is usual wear and tear you should have that documented to protect yourself. You don't want the tenant using the condition statement from the prior tenancy as evidence of... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: I'm buying my In laws house and my husband will be on the title but not the loan, do I still need a title 5 inspection?
Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley answered on Apr 17, 2019

The DEP website says:

When you DON'T need an inspection

Transfers between certain family members: Title 5 does not require a system inspection if the transfer is of residential real property, and is between the following relationships:

Between current spouses;...
Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Land Use & Zoning and Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: Our drinking well is on a property that was sold. Does the person who bought the land need to drill us a new well?

What if we don't want a new well and want to keep the one we have on his property?

Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley answered on Apr 12, 2019

If the well was on your property and you sold the land, you should have made some provision for retaining an interest in that land, like an easement, so you can keep using the well. If you did not, there may be an issue with the current owner because if you have no easement, you may not have a... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: A house intrust is in major disrepair whose responsible for the repairs?

The person that is living in the house is one of the beneficiaries.

Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley answered on Mar 22, 2019

The terms of the trust at issue spell out the trustee's duties and responsibilities. Trustees are generally considered responsible for upkeep and maintenance of the property, but are not usually required to expend personal funds to do so. Funds for upkeep and maintenance are usually expected to... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for Massachusetts on
Q: Can I get my condo Title revised so that it changes the parking spot that goes with the unit? If so, how do I do this?

Background: I recently discovered that my condo unit’s first tenant had switched parking spaces with a tenant on the opposite side the their building. This gave each party a spot right outside their own unit. When I got a new tenant they continued with that spot. My current tenant wants to buy... Read more »

Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley answered on Mar 4, 2019

Yes. If parking spaces in your condo. are deeded, you would have to trade deeds with the other unit/parking space owner. Your could also give each other reciprocal easements or licenses. If parking spaces are assigned by the condo. you might be able to get the board of trustees to switch... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Small Claims for Massachusetts on
Q: Can I get my neighbor to pay for damages to my basement due to his water heater leaking?

In August, my basement was flooded for two days due to water pouring in from the adjacent townhouse. I filed a claim with my home owner's insurance and the master policy. Two different assessors reviewed the water damage. The one representing the master policy went next door, but my neighbor would... Read more »

Ali Shahrestani, Esq.
Ali Shahrestani, Esq. answered on Jan 22, 2019

You may be able to sue the neighbor for negligence and/or trespass in small claims court. See: https://www.mass.gov/small-claims. More details are necessary to provide a professional analysis of your issue. The best first step is an Initial Consultation with an Attorney such as myself. You can read... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Tax Law for Massachusetts on
Q: If I receive a 1099-A representing a loss of $13k for ditching a timeshare can I claim this as a loss? Will it help me?

I was sold a timeshare with false accusations. I have the ability to hire an atty to get the time share nullified and they are saying I will receive a 1099-A to declare the loss. Will this actually provide me any cash savings during the tax process? I have no cap. gains or stock - just basic... Read more »

Michael Hales
Michael Hales answered on Jan 17, 2019

I'd be wary of any attorney that tells you this. I've practiced law in Florida for many years and when I've helped clients get out of a timeshare, they will often receive a 1099 when the timeshare cancels the loan/mortgage. However, if the loan that was cancelled was $13k, the form will also report... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law, Consumer Law, Civil Litigation and Elder Law for Massachusetts on
Q: Can assessment of damages hearing be brought by condominium assoiation under rule 55b2 if no default?

Condo Association was denied preliminary injunction for rules violation in hearing 11/ 9/16. In Summary Judgment Hearing 11/9/17 Count I re violation was denied but allowed Count II for assessment of damages hearing. They applied under rule 55(b)(2) with Issuance of Notice to Sell (per MGL c.254... Read more »

Ali Shahrestani, Esq.
Ali Shahrestani, Esq. answered on Jan 9, 2019

One concern may be whether her assets are going to be the subject of a lien and collections efforts. Another concern would focus on her estate after she passes: would judgment creditors seek reimbursement at that time? More details are necessary to provide a professional analysis of your issue. The... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: Why is assessment of damages hearing brought under rule 55b(2) if there has been no default?

Relates to Condominium Association seeking lien.

Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley answered on Jan 8, 2019

The condo. association cannot hold a Rule 55(b)(2) assessment of damages hearing unless a default has entered. Most condo. association attorneys I know are diligent about complying with procedural rules for entry of default in condo. association lien collection cases. Is it possible you missed the... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law and Tax Law for Massachusetts on
Q: Will my property taxes increase if I add heat to a previously unconditioned outbuilding on my property?
Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley answered on Dec 10, 2018

Massachusetts towns assess value annually. They calculate property values based on the market activity as well as certain property-specific attributes such as location, size, construction quality, style, and condition. These include the status of outbuildings. Factors may include the usefulness of... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: Can I buy 3 family and legally break tenants lease due to lead in home and her children living there?

Buying 3 family home in Massachusetts. Unit one is a mother with a newborn and other young children. This unit has no lead certificate and they have signed a lease to stay until next May. Seller wants buyer to uphold lease agreements, however the current lease violates the state lead law. Will I... Read more »

Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley answered on Dec 6, 2018

You are likely going to face the possibility that you will have to delead the unit or the building. Online forums such as these are only useful up to a point. I strongly suggest you consult an attorney familiar with this area of the law before proceeding further.

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: My neighbor's wall tilts about an inch and a half on my property, would it be legal for me to cut it down with my tools?
Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley answered on Dec 3, 2018

I know of nothing that permits this. Destruction of another's possibly encroaching structure is always risky without specific legal sanction to do so. For example, if you are incorrect about the location of the boundary line, your neighbor will have a right to sue you for destroying the fence and... Read more »

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