Commercial Real Estate Law in Massachusetts
In Boston, Massachusetts, commercial real estate is any form of real property (land or permanent structures) being utilized for business purposes.
The laws governing commercial real estate in Boston, Massachusetts are quite different from those applying to residential real estate.
Buyers and renters of residential property enjoy some pretty significant legal protections, because the law of most states presumes that shelter (being necessary to survive, for the most part) is more important than business. Therefore, many of these consumer protections don't apply to commercial real estate.
These include implied warranties of habitability, rent control, and covenants of use and quiet enjoyment, among various others. Of course, the most general protections, such as prohibiting the seller from actively concealing defects, apply to both.
Common Commercial Real Estate Law Issues in Boston, Massachusetts
Financing: Most small business owners in Boston, Massachusetts don't have the money to buy real estate with the cash on hand. Nonetheless, there is a solution to this problem, permitting people without massive sums of money (but with a steady income) to buy real estate: the mortgage. A mortgage is a loan used to buy real estate, and the real estate being bought is used as collateral for the loan.
Duty to Disclose Defects: It is of the utmost importance that sellers and lessors of commercial real estate be up front about any defects that might be present in the property. Failing to disclose them can be bad, and actively concealing them can be much worse. In general, if a defect is significant enough that it would influence a reasonable person's decision to buy a piece of property, and the seller knows about it, the seller should disclose it. Failure to disclose can have significant consequences. If the buyer later discovers the defect, they can sue for the cost of repairing it, or for any reduction in the property's value caused by it. And, of course, if it causes any injuries, the buyer can sue the seller for those, as well.
Duty to Inspect: While buyers of real estate have some significant protections with respect to defects, they also have some obligations. Before finalizing a purchase, buyers are expected to undertake a reasonable inspection of the property, usually by using a licensed building inspector. If the buyer fails to conduct an inspection, they usually won't be able to successfully sue, if defects are discovered after the purchase.
Encumbrances: These are defects to title, rather than physical defects. They are legal issues which might make it challenging or impossible for a landowner to make full use of their land. In Boston, Massachusetts, these might include easements. An easement is a right to use property held by a party other than the owner. This use is often very specific in scope, such as allowing the holder of the easement to cross the property to access a public road, or something similar. Such rights usually have to be recognized and honored by new owners, so if they buy property not knowing about them, they might be seriously inconvenienced.
Can a Boston, Massachusetts Attorney Help?
The issues surrounding commercial real estate in Boston, Massachusetts can get fairly complex. Therefore, it's never a bad idea to have the assistance of an experienced commercial real estate attorney.