Re: Common vs Limited Common Elements [was Exterior modifications
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2014 06:23:07 -0800 (PST)
Cornerstone was not impacted by 40B because Cambridge is well over State 
requirements for below-market units.  However, Cornerstone was / is impacted by 
local "inclusionary zoning", which requires all sizable multi-family projects 
to include 10% below-market limited equity units.  Purchase and sale of these 
units is controlled by the city, not by the community or even the 
income-qualified unit owners.

From time to time, up comes the question of, Should we discount assessments on 
the "affordable" units?  This question usually gets entangled with others, like 
     ? Why does it seem like this affordable unit household has more money than 
I do?  And,
     ? Why is it that this household doesn't participate in much in community 
life?  And,
     ? Why can't we have any influence on who buys these units, anyway?

So our dog is sleeping soundly too, and for the time being, assessments on the 
affordables are pretty much proportionate to square footage.

Philip Dowds

> On Feb 19, 2014, at 11:25 AM, Diana Carroll <dianaecarroll [at]> 
> wrote:
> Our schedule of beneficial interest is made more complicated by the fact
> that a quarter of our units are designated "affordable" home (per the
> Massachusetts affordable housing law called 40B.)  These were/will be sold
> at a much lower price than the market rate units, and also have a lower
> beneficial interest, and therefore lower condo fees.
> Our initial schedule of beneficial interest is more or less based on the
> relative initial asking price of the various units, which is only loosely
> connected to square footage.   In the 5 years since we moved in, there have
> been lots of shifts, including some folks (like me) buying basements, or
> buying or selling carports, or finishing living space, or what have you.
> Any new formula we might come up with would need to take into account the
> affordable units, which (both legally and ethically) must continue to have
> lower fees than their same-sized market-rate units.
> There hasn't been any grumbling (yet) but I do wonder if a fairer
> distribution of assessments would be beneficial to the community.
> But...more daunting than the negotiation with the bank is the idea of
> trying to reach consensus on this *within* the community!  *shudder*  So,
> for now, sleeping dogs are left lying.
> One mitigating factor for us is that in addition to our HOA with its
> legally specified apportionment of expenses, we also have an "cohousing
> group" which works entirely differently, with a voluntary sliding scale in
> which people pledge a certain amount.  I always take into account in my
> mind the fact that I'm "skating" on condo fees due to the technical
> beneficial interest loophole, and pledge more than I might otherwise to
> make up for it.  I don't know if any of the other "skaters" do so though.
> (Many are latecomers to the community who may not even be aware they *are*
> skating!)
> Diana

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