REBA is continuing to monitor developments related to COVID-19. A lot has happened in the last week, changing how we conduct our personal and professional lives.  REBA’s Executive Director, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Information Officer, together with REBA’s section leaders, have been working tirelessly to stay on top of these changes and to provide timely updates to REBA members.  Included below are some resources that might be helpful to you.

While we weather this extraordinary situation, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns.  We are here to serve our members and welcome your input.  In that regard, if you see a particular issue or trend that you would like to bring to REBA’s attention, please do so.  Circumstances are changing hourly and we want to do what we can to stay on top of issues as they develop and make adjustments where we can.

In the meantime, stay safe and be well.

 

Lawyers Are Essential

On March 23, Governor Baker issued an Emergency Executive Order, COVID-19 Order No. 13, requiring all workplaces, except for those defined as essential services, to cease operation from noon on Tuesday, March 24th until noon on Tuesday, April 7th, and to prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people. Those businesses that are essential are encouraged to continue operations.

With the Order came an extensive list of businesses deemed essential. Although not expressly mentioned, REBA believes that transactional real estate lawyers provide essential services as defined by the Order.

Under the Financial Services section of the Order, workers identified as essential include those who “are needed to maintain systems for processing financial transactions and services (e.g., payment, clearing, and settlement; wholesale funding; insurance services; and capital market activities).” Also included are “Professional services (such as legal and accounting services)…, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally-mandated activities and critical sector services or where failure to provide such services during the time of the order would result in in significant prejudice.”

The services provided by real estate lawyers are necessary for the completion of financial transactions and to assist clients in complying with their legal obligations. Moreover, if real estate lawyers are unavailable to represent their clients, prejudice would undoubtedly result in a myriad of ways, including, among other things, forfeiting the purchase, sale or refinance of a home, losing a favorable interest rate, and not accessing necessary funds. Under these circumstances, REBA believes transactional real estate lawyers are essential workers and should be permitted to continue operations so long as they practice safe social distancing measures.

Individual professionals and business owners who are uncertain whether their services are essential, as defined by the Order, have the option to submit a request. You may access the link to do so here. If you have submitted such a request and received a response, we would appreciate hearing from you.

 

Attorney General's Guidance on Local Authority Amid COVID-19

On April 15, 2020, Massachusetts Attorney General Healey issued a useful and authoritative guidance memo, discussing the permissible scope of municipal actions to respond to the COVID-19 emergency.

For the memo, click here.

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Remote Real Estate Closings

On April 27, 2020, Governor Baker signed long-awaited emergency legislation authorizing virtual notarization during the current State of Emergency.  The legislation carries an emergency preamble and will remain in effect until three business days following the termination of the Declaration of a State of Emergency.

 

For the legislation, click here.

 

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REBA Provisional Forms

 

Affidavit of Notarial Act Performed Over Video Conference (by attorneys)

 

Affidavit of Notarial Act Performed Over Video Conference (by paralegals)

 

Sample Form Certificates of Virtual Notarial Acts for Real Estate Transactions

 

Virtual Notarization Guidelines and Temporary Procedures Authorized

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REBA Conferences

At REBA's virtual 2020 Annual Meeting & Conference (AMC20), all 10 of the hour-long, RIMCLE-accredited breakout presentations will be available online to registrants for 30 days, beginning on Monday, November 2nd.  This will include two, one-hour sessions of Phil Lapatin's popular Recent Developments in Massachusetts Case Law, covering an entire year of case law, as well as downloadable syllabus material for each breakout session.  

The plenary session, which will include remarks from REBA President Jen Markowski, as well as reports from our Nominating and Standards & Forms Committees, will be broadcast live at 1:30 pm on Monday, November 2nd.

This remote operational model will permit Conference registrants to access, at their convenience, all ten of the breakout sessions, far more than would be available at our traditional all-day, in-person Conference.

For the complete schedule of events, download the Conference Brochure. To register, complete the Registration Form and return it with payment to the REBA office. You can also Register Online or by phone at (617) 854-7555.

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REBA Webcast Programs

For information on REBA's one-hour long, Section-sponsored Webcast Programs, click here.

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Registries of Deeds Closings and Updates

Our Registries Section, Co-chaired by Doug Brunner, is actively tracking developments at the Commonwealth’s 21 registries of deeds and advising as to which registries are open and with what restrictions apply.  We will update this page as we receive new information.

For the latest information available on the status of the registries, click here.

Archived Probate Records Available from Middlesex County.

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REBA COVID-19 Rider to the Purchase & Sale Agreement

The REBA Residential Conveyancing Section and Standards and Forms Committee have drafted a Rider that addresses closing delays due to COVID-19.

For the proposed language, click here.

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REBA Residential Lease Forms Relating to Coronavirus Impacts

In response to member requests, REBA’s Residential Landlord/Tenant Section is offering two forms.  One is a payment plan offering tenants temporary flexibility regarding rent related to COVID-19 impacts, and the other is a lease addendum extending the commencement date of a lease as a result of COVID-19 impacts.  Section Co-chairs Ken Krems and Emil Ward thank Jordana Greenman for drafting the commencement date extension form.

To access the Coronavirus Residential Lease Addendum, click here.

To access the Rider to Lease, click here.

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REBA Provisional P&S Form for Temporary Deferral of Smoke Certificate Inspections

In response to member requests, REBA's Residential Conveyancing Section is offering a provisional residential purchase and sale agreement  form or rider to be utilized in response to Governor Baker's March 20th Order, allowing temporary suspension, for the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency, of the inspection of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, that may be a condition to the sale of a dwelling, building or structure.

For the Governor’s Order, click here.

For the all-industry letter to Governor Baker, click here.

To access the smoke certificate deferral form, click here.

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REBA Provisional Form COVID-19 Payment Plan Agreement

Payment Plan Agreement and Addendum to Lease (COVID-19 Pandemic)

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Land Court Standing Orders and Notices

The Land Court has published an Amendment to Standing Order 7-20, which becomes effective Monday, August 17, 2020. The Amendment affects only Section V(C) of the Standing Order, and permits the advancement and processing of certain Servicemembers cases that fall within the exemptions outlined in state and federal moratoria on foreclosures and related actions, as well as dismissals. Previously, the Land Court only had been processing Servicemembers cases that fell within these exemptions and also presented exigent circumstances or urgency, thorough our general protocols for handling emergency business.

To accompany the Amendment, the Recorder's Office has published Protocols for the bar and public on how to advance Servicemembers cases that fall within the state and federal moratoria exemptions. To assist the orderly processing of such cases, we have created and published a new Form Affidavit of Inapplicability of State and Federal Foreclosure Moratoria for attorneys and the public to use to establish that the Servicemembers case for which the filer is seeking advancement meets this criteria.

Apart from Servicemembers cases, we have also today published a Form Affidavit Showing Foreclosure Deed May Be Registered Notwithstanding Foreclosure Moratoria. This Affidavit can be used by attorneys and the public when seeking Land Court Title Examiner approval of foreclosure-related documents for purposes of registering those documents at the Land Registration Districts in the local Registries of Deeds.

Standing Order 8-20: Resumption of filing and processing of Servicemembers cases* (effective 10/19/20)

*Standing Order 8-20 supersedes Section V(C) of Land Court Standing Order 7-20 and resumes eFiling of Servicemembers cases in the Land Court, discontinues use of the Affidavit of Inapplicability of State and Federal Moratoria, extends the Return Day for answering Servicemembers complaints in certain pending cases, and specifies when Supplemental Orders of Notice in pending cases affected by the state moratorium are required.

Standing Order 7-20: Updated Emergency Measures in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak (effective 7/1/20)

Standing Order 6-20: Updated & Restated Emergency Measures in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak (effective 6/1/20)

Standing Order 5-20: Updated Emergency Measures in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak (effective 5/4/20)

Standing Order 4-20: Emergency Measures in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak (Restated) (effective 4/6/20)

Standing Order 3-20: Supplement to Emergency Measures in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak (effective 3/18/20)

Standing Order 3-20: Supplement to Emergency Measures in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak – Part II

Standing Order 2-20: Emergency Measures in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

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Land Court Notices and Memos:.

Updated Procedures for Processing Subsequent Cases, Condominium Documents and Document Approvals, and Scheduling Appointments with Title Examiners (9/30/20)

Notice of Protocols for In-Person Access to the Land Court Recorder’s Office (7/13/20)

Land Court Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) (5/29/20)

Registered Land Memorandum on Virtual Notarization from Chief Title Examiner (5/13/20)

Memorandum on Interim Procedures for the Remote Processing of Subsequent Cases and Condominium Registered Land Documents (4/10/20)

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Housing Court Standing Orders and Notices

Standing Order 5-20: Further Modifications to Housing Court Operations Due to COVID-19

 

Housing Court Affidavit for Cause as it Relates to Chapter 65 of the Acts of 2020

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COVID-19 Articles

The following articles comprise a trilogy on changes and choices faced by permit applicants and conservation commissions from the new emergency laws, gubernatorial orders, court orders and MassDEP guidance:

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Guidance for Project Applicants and Conservation Commissions Conducting Meetings and Hearings, and Deciding Wetland Matters, During COVID-19 Crisis

MassDEP Issues FAQs for Conservation Commissions and Applicants for Wetlands Permitting Under the COVID-19 State of Emergency

Laws and Orders Addressing COVID-19 Create New Uncertainties About Beginning Work on a Project: Choices for Recent Applicants and Permit-Holders