Recently, an engagement representing a young couple purchasing one Unit of a two unit condominium in the process of being converted from a two-family home, presented a unique situation for my firm. Because the documents had not been recorded, we could comment on their content and make sure that all aspects of the documents were consistent with Massachusetts condominium law and the understandings of the parties.
Initially, this exercise proceeded on a course which was positive. Our careful review of the documents reviewed some internal inconsistencies, some typographical errors and an inconsistency between the floor plans and the language of the Master Deed. With the cooperation of the woman who drafted the documents, we made the necessary changes to the documents, and we believed we were in a position to close on the Unit in question a few weeks ago.
Here is where the "be careful what you wish for" comes in. Our clients, a nice couple with good intentions, seized on certain aspects of the Condominium rules, no less, to make the review controversial. They had real concerns about where people could smoke, and they wanted assurances about the fact that they could have a fenced in area in the rear of their unit for their dog to exercise in. They had other issues of this type which are just now getting resolved, after literally hours of extra work, which could well have been obviated once the second Unit owner purchased his, her or their Unit, and the two unit owners sat down to work things out between themselves.
I am inclined the next time this "opportunity" arises, to suggest that the developer record the Condominium Documents prior to our entering into Purchase and Sale Agreement negotiations. Giving first-time unit owners a blank check on document changes is not always wise. I am starting to think the better course is to let the Unit Owners work things out by themselves. Whatever the unilateral decision may be, trying to live together as basically partners in a living enterprise will always be more important. Putting one Unit Owner at an apparent advantage at the onset cannot undercut that obvious fact.