Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same,
SECTION 1. Chapter 128 of the acts of 1981 is hereby amended by striking out sections 1 to 6, inclusive, and inserting in place thereof the following seven sections:-
Section 1. As used in this act, the following words and phrases shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:-
"Board", the board of selectmen of the town of Acton.
"Condominium unit", a unit in a housing condominium as that term is defined in chapter one hundred and eighty-three A of the General Laws.
"Cooperative unit", a unit in a housing cooperative as set forth in chapter one hundred and fifty-seven of the General Laws.
"Condominium or cooperative conversion eviction", an eviction of a tenant for the purpose of removing such tenant from a housing accommodation in order to facilitate the initial sale and transfer of legal title to that housing accommodation as a condominium or cooperative unit to a prospective purchaser or an eviction of a tenant by any other person who has purchased a housing accommodation as a condominium or cooperative unit when the tenant whose eviction is sought was a resident of the housing accommodation at the time the notice of intent to convert is given to convert the building or buildings to the condominium or cooperative form of ownership pursuant to section four; provided, however, that the eviction of a tenant for nonpayment of rent or other violation of a rental agreement shall in no event be deemed a condominium or cooperative conversion eviction.
"Elderly tenant", a tenant who is a person or group of persons residing in the same housing accommodation any of whom has reached the age of sixty-two years or over as of the date or receipt of the notice provided for hereunder.
"Handicapped tenant", a person entitled to occupy a housing accommodation who is physically handicapped as defined in section thirteen A of chapter twenty-two of the General Laws as of the date of receipt of the notice provided for hereunder.
"Housing accommodation", any building, structure, or part thereof of land appurtenant thereto, or any other real or personal property rented or offered for rent for living or dwelling purposes, together with all services connected with the use or occupancy of such property, but not including (a) housing accommodation in a building containing four or fewer units; or (b) housing accommodation in a building containing five or fewer units, provided one unit is actually occupied by the owner thereof as his permanent residence.
"Lease", any rental housing agreement, written or implied between an owner or landlord and a tenant for use or occupancy of a housing accommodation.
"Low or moderate income tenant", a tenant who is a person or group of persons residing in the same housing accommodation so long as the total income for all such tenants for the twelve months immediately preceding the date of notice provided for hereunder is less than eighty per cent of the median income for the area set forth in regulations promulgated from time to time by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development pursuant to 42 USC 1437 et seq., and calculated pursuant to said regulations.
"Owner", any person who holds title to housing accommodations as herein defined, including, without limitation, any individual, corporation, trust or partnership.
"Remove from rental housing use", the sale of any housing accommodation as herein defined, existing on the effective date of this act, as a condominium or the sale of shares in cooperative authorizing the owner thereof to occupy a housing accommodation existing on the effective date of this act.
"Tenant", a person or group of persons collectively entitled to occupy a housing accommodation pursuant to a rental agreement written or implied.
Section 2. No owner, or person acting on behalf of or with the consent of an owner, shall remove from rental housing use any housing accommodation unless the board, after a hearing, grants such owner or person a permit.
Section 3. The board may promulgate regulations prescribing the form of applications for permits hereunder, and the procedure for notice and hearing on such applications, and may establish a fee for such permits, not to exceed fifty dollars per unit within the housing accommodations being converted. The board may impose appropriate conditions to effectuate the purpose of this act on the grant of any permit.
Section 4. (a) If an owner intends to remove from rental housing use any housing accommodation that is subject to the provisions of this act, the owner thereof shall give each tenant of all housing accommodations in such building or buildings, notice of intent to convert the building or buildings to the condominiums or cooperative form of ownership. Such notice shall state in clear and conspicuous language the following:
(i) that the owner intends to file a master deed at the Middlesex county registry of deeds or intends to file articles of organization with the secretary of the commonwealth.
(ii) that any tenant residing on the date the notice of intent is given in the building or buildings to be converted to the condominium or cooperative forms of ownerships shall have a period of time which shall be stated in the notice, from the date of receipt of such notice, as authorized by this act, before the tenant shall be required to vacate the housing accommodation occupied on the date the notice is received;
(iii) that any tenant residing on the date that notice of intent was given in the building or buildings to be converted shall have a period of time, which shall be stated in the notice, from the date of receipt of such notice, as authorized by this act, to purchase the unit occupied by the tenant on the date the notice is received on terms and conditions which are substantially the same as or more favorable than those which the owner extends to the public generally for the ninety days following the expiration of said tenant's right to purchase as may be required by paragraph (b). All notices required under this section shall be deemed to have been given when a written notice is delivered in person or mailed by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, to the party to whom the notice is being given.
Whenever an owner is required to give notice of intent provided for in this section, the period of notice shall not be less than the expiration of any written lease or agreement between the owner and the tenant of the housing accommodation which governs the use and occupancy of said housing accommodation or one year from the date the tenant of such housing accommodation is given said notice of intent, whichever is greater; provided, however, that in the case of housing accommodation occupied in whole or in part by a handicapped tenant or occupied by an elderly or low or moderate income tenant the period of notice shall not be less than two years from the date the tenant of such housing accommodation receives said notice of intent.
No person shall bring any action seeking a condominium or cooperative eviction until the expiration of the periods of time for notice to tenants specified in this act.
The burden of proving qualifications with respect to age, handicapped, and income shall rest with the tenant.
(b) Any owner of a housing accommodation who intends to convert such property to the condominium or cooperative form of ownership shall give to any tenant who is entitled to receive notice pursuant to this section the right to purchase the housing accommodation occupied by such tenant at the time such notice is delivered on terms and conditions which are substantially the same as or more favorable than those which the owner extends to the public generally for the ninety days following the expiration of said tenant's right to purchase. Such tenant may exercise the right to purchase such housing accommodations by executing a purchase and sales agreement prior to the expiration of ninety days after the date of receiving a copy of the purchase and sales agreement properly executed by the person offering the housing accommodation for sale.
(c) The owner of any housing accommodation that is converted to the condominium or cooperative form of ownership shall pay to any tenant who is entitled to receive a notice pursuant to this section and who does not purchase the housing accommodation which he occupies or another housing accommodation in the same building or buildings, relocation benefits for the actual, documented costs of moving, not to exceed seven hundred and fifty dollars per housing accommodation; provided, however, that if such housing accommodation is occupied in whole or in part by a handicapped tenant or is occupied by an elderly or low or moderate income tenant, the maximum relocation benefits shall not exceed one thousand dollars per housing accommodation. Such relocation benefits shall be payable within ten days after the date on which the tenant vacates the housing accommodation occupied by him; provided, however, that no tenant shall be eligible for such relocation benefits unless all rent due and payable for said unit under the rental agreement or extension of such agreement, if any, has been paid by the tenant prior to the date on which the housing accommodation is vacated and only as long as the tenant voluntarily vacates the housing accommodation for which recovery of possession is sought, on or before the expiration of the notice period.
(d) Any owner of housing accommodations converted to the condominium or cooperative form of ownership shall assist elderly, handicapped and low or moderate income tenants, who qualify as such as of the date of receipt of the notice authorized pursuant to this section, in locating within the period of the notice of such tenants, comparable rental housing within the town of Acton which rents for a sum which is equal to or less than the sum which such tenant had been paying for the housing accommodation occupied at the time of receipt of the notice authorized by this section. The failure of the owner of such housing accommodation to find such substitute housing accommodation shall extend the period of notice for up to an additional two years.
(e) Any owner of residential property converted to the condominium or cooperative form of ownership shall give to any tenant who is entitled to receive a notice pursuant to this section an extension of the lease or rental agreement at the expiration thereof. Such extension, where required, shall be for such period or periods of one year or such fraction thereof as shall equal the period of notice to which such tenant is entitled pursuant to the provisions of this section. The provisions of such lease or rental agreement may not otherwise be modified by the property owner 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 lease or rental agreement is commenced, or ten per cent, whichever is less; provided, however, that nothing herein shall limit the right of a property owner to any amounts which may be due under a valid tax escalation clause.
Section 5. The board shall grant a permit if it finds that:
(a) the owner has provided each tenant of all housing accommodations in such building or buildings intended to be converted to the condominiums or cooperative form of ownership, such notice, right to purchase, relocation benefits, assistance in locating comparable rental housing and appropriate provisions for extension of rental agreements as set forth in section four; and
(b) the owner has provided to the board a certification, stamped and signed by an independent registered engineer or architect licensed to practice in the commonwealth, that the housing accommodations which are intended to be converted to the condominium or cooperative form of ownership meet all applicable building and health codes of the town of Acton and of the commonwealth.
Section 6. Any owner who converts residential property in violation of any provision of this act, shall be punished by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment of not less than sixty days for each offense. Each unit converted in violation of this act and each month during which such unit is offered for sale or occupied without a permit hereunder shall constitute a separate offense.
Section 6A. The board or any person aggrieved by a failure to comply with this act may enforce its provisions through the district or superior courts. Said courts shall have jurisdiction over an action arising from any violation of this act, and shall have jurisdiction in equity to restrain any such violation.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon its passage.