Real Estate News

  

MASSACHUSETTS HOMESTEAD ACT REVISIONS

Chapter 395 of the Acts of 2010, AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE ESTATE OF HOMESTEAD, revises and replaces the provisions of the Massachusetts Homestead Act, G.L. c. 188. The amendment provides additional definition and clarifies a number of uncertainties in the existing statute. A summary of the changes appears below. For complete information about the new amendment, click here.

Who May File A Homestead Protection?  The owner(s) of a home or those who rightfully possess the premises by lease and also occupy or intend to occupy the home as a principal residence may file for the Homestead protection. Thus, the real property or manufactured home (mobile home) which serves as an individual’s principal residence would be protected against subsequent attachment upon the filing of a Declaration of Homestead.

The New Bill:  The new bill signed by Governor Deval Patrick provides Mass homeowners with a $125,000 cushion against debt collectors, provided that the homeowners have that much equity in their properties. Also, the new amendment does not require homeowners to file a homestead declaration UNLESS they hold more than $125,000 in equity in their homes. Filing a Homestead Declaration provides a homeowner with $500,000 in protection.


Among other changes, the new law clarifies that the home equity protections remain valid if a family member transfers a home to another relative or if they refinance a mortgage. It also provides coverage to people whose homes are in a trust for estate planning or other reasons. Please note that the law DOES NOT protect residents from foreclosure.

 

WHAT IS ACID RAIN?

"Acid rain" is a broad term referring to a mixture of wet and dry deposition (deposited material) from the atmosphere containing higher than normal amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids. The precursors, or chemical forerunners, of acid rain formation result from both natural sources, such as volcanoes and decaying vegetation, and man-made sources, primarily emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) resulting from fossil fuel combustion.

In the United States, roughly 2/3 of all SO2 and 1/4 of all NOx come from electric power generation that relies on burning fossil fuels, like coal. Acid rain occurs when these gases react in the atmosphere with water, oxygen, and other chemicals to form various acidic compounds. The result is a mild solution of sulfuric acid and nitric acid. When sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are released from power plants and other sources, prevailing winds blow these compounds across state and national borders, sometimes over hundreds of miles.

Effects of Acid Rain:  Acid rain looks, feels, and tastes just like clean rain. The harm to people from acid rain is not direct. Walking in acid rain, or even swimming in an acid lake, is no more dangerous than walking or swimming in clean water. However, the pollutants that cause acid rain—sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx)—do damage human health. These gases interact in the atmosphere to form fine sulfate and nitrate particles that can be transported long distances by winds and inhaled deep into people's lungs. Many scientific studies have identified a relationship between elevated levels of fine particles and increased illness and premature death from heart and lung disorders, such as asthma and bronchitis.

Based on health concerns, SO2 and NOx have historically been regulated under the Clean Air Act. In the eastern U.S., sulfate aerosols make up about 25 percent of fine particles. By lowering SO2 and NOx emissions from power generation, the Clean Air Act will reduce the levels of fine sulfate and nitrate particles and so reduce the incidence and the severity of these health problems.

Reducing Acid Rain:  There are several ways to reduce acid rain, ranging from the societal changes just discussed, to individual action. Individuals can contribute directly to the reduction of acid deposition by conserving energy, since energy production causes the largest portion of the acid deposition problem. For example, you can:

• Turn off lights, computers, and other appliances when not in use.
• Use energy-efficient appliances and use them only when needed.
• Keep your thermostat at 68°F in the winter and 72°F in the summer.
• Insulate your home as best you can.
• Carpool, use public transportation, or better yet, walk or bicycle whenever possible
• Buy vehicles with low NOx emissions, and properly maintain your vehicle.

It is critical that acid deposition be reduced, not only in the United States and Canada, but also throughout the world to preserve the integrity of natural habitats, as well as to reduce damage to man-made structures.