[HISTORY: Adopted by the Special Town Meeting of the Town of Lexington 5-13-1987 by Art. 2. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Town of Lexington finds and declares that a serious public emergency exists with respect to adequate housing for a substantial number of its citizens due to the critical shortage of rental and affordable housing within the Town. This shortage has been created and exacerbated by the lack of sufficient new rental housing production, by increases in financing and construction costs, and by increases in the cost of real estate, substantially exceeding increases in personal income. The emergency has also been created and severely aggravated by the proposed conversion of rental housing into condominiums or cooperatives; over 45% of Lexington's apartment rental housing stock has been or is about to be converted into condominiums. Without sufficient new rental production, such conversion necessarily reduces the rental housing stock otherwise available. An increasing shortage of rental housing accommodations, especially for the elderly, the handicapped, single parent households, and persons and families of low and moderate income, has been and will continue to result from this emergency. Furthermore, there is an acute shortage of housing for low and moderate income families, and the Town does not have sufficient such housing units to prevent the application of the provisions of General Laws Chapter 40B to it. Unless the available stock of rental housing (and those who reside therein) receive more protection than the law now affords, from the conversion of said housing accommodations to condominiums and cooperatives, the rental housing shortage will generate serious threats to the public health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of the Town of Lexington, particularly to the elderly, handicapped, and persons and families of low and moderate income, as defined in Chapter 527 of the Acts of 1983 and in the Housing Element Comprehensive Plan of the Town of Lexington.
Therefore, in order to address this emergency and to continue to provide a sufficient supply of decent and affordable rental housing in the Town of Lexington, it is necessary that the Town of Lexington, in the exercise of its powers under Chapter 527 of the Acts of 1983 and the Home Rule Amendment of the Constitution of the Commonwealth, further regulate the conversion of rental housing into condominiums and cooperatives.
As used in this by-law, the definitions set forth in Section 3 of Chapter 527 of the Laws of 1983 shall apply, unless the context clearly requires otherwise or unless otherwise specified in this section of the by-law.
- CONDOMINIUM CONVERSION BOARD
- The citizen board which administers this by-law.
- The recording of a master deed in order to make the initial sale and transfer of title to a residential accommodation as one or more condominium accommodations pursuant to an individual accommodation deed or deeds or, in the case of a cooperative, an individual proprietary lease or leases.
- LOW OR MODERATE INCOME TENANT
- A tenant who meets the definition of a low or moderate income tenant as defined in Section 3 of Chapter 527 of the Acts of 1983 or a tenant whose income falls within 50% to 120% of the Boston SMSA median income (as calculated by the Regional Economist, Boston Office, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development), at the time of the conversion.
- The individual who holds title to any housing accommodation or any housing subject to conversion, including without limitation, a partnership, corporation, or trust, and owner's agents or assigns.
- A person or group of persons collectively entitled to occupy a housing accommodation pursuant to a rental agreement written, oral, express or implied, including a tenant at will.
Applicability of Chapter 527 of the Acts of 1983. Owners shall be required to comply with the provisions of Section 4 of Chapter 527 of the Acts of 1983 and the provisions of this by-law, which shall be construed to be supplementary to the provisions of Chapter 527 of the Acts of 1983. Any protection or benefits for tenants created by this by-law or conditions imposed by the Board for the protection and benefit of tenants shall be in addition to, and not instead of, any benefits or protection provided by any statute of the Commonwealth or by any decision of any court.
Conversion license required. No housing accommodation in the Town shall be converted to a condominium or cooperative unless the owner shall have first secured a license from the Condominium Conversion Board. The Condominium Conversion Board shall have the authority to grant licenses for the conversion of rental housing accommodations to condominium or cooperative accommodations, provided that no conversion of rental housing accommodations shall be licensed for the earlier of a period of one year from the date of enactment of this by-law, or until the Condominium Conversion Board has been appointed and adopted its rules and regulations. Thereafter, no conversion of rental housing shall be licensed until the Board, by written decision, grants a license. The Board shall not refuse to grant a license, if the applicant has complied with all requirements of federal, state, and local law and regulations.
License may be subject to reasonable conditions. The Board may make the license subject to reasonable conditions for the protection of any tenants.
The Board shall use the following factors in setting conditions to the granting of a license:
The protection of the public interest of the Town of Lexington;
The hardships imposed on the tenants residing in the accommodations proposed to be converted;
The aggravation of the shortage of rental housing accommodations in the Town, especially accommodations suitable for families of low and moderate income persons, for single parent households, for elderly, for handicapped or for people on fixed incomes, which may result from the conversion;
The hardship on the owner of the real estate to be converted or to the purchaser of the unit;
Reasonable arrangements, made by the owner or third parties, to alleviate the hardship on the tenants affected by the proposed condominium conversion.
Scope of conditions. The conditions imposed may include (but are not limited to) a time schedule for the sale of the individual accommodations, a requirement that a reasonable percentage (not less than 10% and not more than 20%) of the accommodations be offered to the Lexington Housing Authority, Lexington Housing Assistance Board, or a limited profit or non-profit legal entity on such terms and conditions as will make the offeree eligible for state or federal subsidies and as will make it economically feasible for the unit to be purchased for rental to persons of low or moderate income. Such units shall be permanently kept as rental accommodations for low and moderate income persons.
The provisions of this section apply only to elderly tenants, handicapped tenants, and low or moderate income tenants, unless otherwise explicitly stated.
Pursuant to the authority vested in this Town by the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the owner of a housing accommodation shall be prohibited from instituting any condominium or cooperative conversion eviction as defined in Chapter 527 of the Acts of 1983, without first obtaining a license from the Condominium Conversion Board. Further, the eviction of a tenant by any other person who has purchased a housing accommodation shall be deemed a condominium or cooperative conversion eviction, if the tenant was a resident of the housing accommodation at the time that the master deed for the housing accommodation was recorded pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 183A of the General Laws, or at the time that the articles of organization for the cooperative were filed with the Secretary of State.
The Board shall not license an eviction under this section until the accommodation of the tenant subject to that eviction has been sold, pursuant to the condominium master deed.
The Condominium Conversion Board shall have the power to promulgate rules and regulations for the enforcement of this section.
The Board may not unreasonably withhold a license to evict, but may make the granting of a license subject to reasonable terms and conditions, which may include (but are not limited to):
Prohibiting the eviction for a period of time, not less than any period of time to which the tenant is entitled under the provision of any other law, court decision, regulation, or by-law and not more than a period of five years from the date of the application for a license to evict.
Requiring that the applicant for the eviction license give to the tenant sought to be evicted an extension of the rental agreement for a period of time, not less than any period of time to which the tenant is entitled under the provision of any other law, court decision, regulation, or by-law and not more than a period of five years from the date of the application for a license to evict. The provisions of such rental agreement may not otherwise be modified, except with respect to the amount of annual rent, any increase in which shall not exceed an amount equal to the sum which would result by multiplying said rent by the percentage increase in the consumer price index for all urban consumers as published by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, during the calendar year immediately preceding the date upon which such rental agreement is commenced, or 10%, whichever is less; provided, however, nothing herein shall limit the right of a property owner to any amounts which may be due under a valid escalation clause in the written lease.
Any rent increase, imposition of new terms and conditions of the tenancy, reduction or elimination of services, or other device used to circumvent the protections of this section shall be invalid.
Any condition or terms imposed by the Board with respect to a license to evict shall be in addition to, and not instead of, any right, protection, or benefit available to the tenant under any statute of the Commonwealth or court decision.
The guidelines that the Board shall use in determining the conditions upon which an eviction license may be granted shall include the following:
The hardship on the tenant and the owner of the unit in question. The Board may include in its consideration of hardship matters relating to finances, health, age, and family problems (including the importance of a child finishing school in Lexington).
The availability of affordable housing for the tenant in Lexington.
The housing situation of the owner of the unit in question.
Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing to the contrary, this section of this by-law applies, to the extent permitted by law, to all persons who were elderly, handicapped, and low or moderate income tenants on the date of the adoption of this by-law, by the Town Meeting.
This by-law does not apply to any building containing fewer than four housing accommodations.
Appointment and composition. The Board of Selectmen shall appoint five members to administer the provisions of this by-law. The Board of Selectmen may appoint any existing board (including itself), official committee of the Town, commission or authority to act as the Condominium Conversion Board. It may, as an alternative, appoint five citizens of the Town of sound judgment and knowledge of housing and land planning issues.
Terms of office. Members of the Conversion Board will serve without compensation for three-year terms, except for the first year of appointment when the Selectmen shall designate two members to have three-year terms, two members to have two-year terms and one member to have a one-year term. If the Board of Selectmen appoints an existing board, official committee of the Town, commission or authority to act as the Condominium Conversion Board, the terms of office of the Condominium Conversion Board shall be coterminous with the terms of office of such other board, committee, commission, or authority.
Procedure and hearings. The Condominium Conversion Board shall promulgate rules of procedure for the conduct of its business.
It may establish reasonable fees for applications for licenses.
Its rules shall require that it will hold a public hearing on any application for a condominium conversion license after notice by certified or registered mail to all occupants of the subject property and by publication in a newspaper of general circulation within the town.
The hearing shall not be scheduled for a date less than 30 days from the date of the mailed notice, nor more than 60 days from that date. The rules of the Board may provide for reasonable postponements by agreement of the Board and the applicant.
The Board shall reduce its decisions to writing which it shall file with the Town Clerk within 60 days of the completion of the hearing or within such time as the Board and the applicant shall agree. If the Board does not render its decision within the time required by this section, it shall be deemed to have granted the license requested without condition, save those imposed by state law.
The Board's rules shall require that it will hold a public hearing on any application for an eviction license after notice by certified or registered mail to the tenants in the subject property whose eviction the applicant seeks and by publication in a newspaper of general circulation within the town.
The Board shall reduce its decisions to writing which it shall file with the Town Clerk within 60 days of the completion of the hearing or within such time as the Board and the parties shall agree. However, the failure of the Board to act within the time required by this Subsection C(6) shall not have the effect of granting the license to evict.
Any aggrieved party may appeal a decision of the Board to a court of competent jurisdiction within 30 days of the date the decision of the Board has been filed with the Town Clerk or within such time as state law permits.
If any provision of this by-law or the application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity shall not affect any other provision of this by-law.