Legislative Report from the State Capitol

Oct 4, 2013


Community Associations Institute’s Pennsylvania Legislative Action Committee (LAC) represents the interests of an estimated 2.8 million Pennsylvania residents, comprising nearly onefourth of the state’s population, living in over 14,500 condominium associations, cooperative associations, and planned communities throughout Pennsylvania. These numbers are, at best, very rough estimates, as no method to accurately determine how many community associations there are in the state currently exists. CAI is supporting legislation to change that.

Generally, there are three laws in Pennsylvania that regulate the activities of common interest ownership communities (CIOC): the Uniform Condominium Act (covers condo associations), the Uniform Planned Community Act (covers planned communities), and the Real Estate Cooperative Act (covers cooperative associations). In the 2013-2014 Pennsylvania legislative session, CAI is working on the following pieces of legislation before the House and Senate under the following topics:

Joint State Government Commission Report Recommendation: House Bill 1688

The 2011 report of the JSGC on Common Interest Ownership Communities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania presents the commission’s recommendations and conclusions as a result of a study authorized by House Resultion 350 of 2009. One of the policy recommendations in the report was to improve the collection of data in the Commonwealth on common interest ownership communities which would then assist in the implementation of other public policy objectives outlined in the study. CAI supports House Bill 1688, the Planned Unit Development Data Collection Act, introduced on September 17, 2013 by Representative Mario Scavello (R-176). The Bill would require County Governments within the Commonwealth to collect, maintain, and make available upon request, information identifying Condominium Associations, Cooperative Housing Developments, and Planned Communities located within the boundaries of the county. This data collection would accomplish the following objectives: Aid the state in assessing the impact, including fiscal, of legislation specific to Common Interest Ownership Communities; and, assist community associations, their managers, elected volunteer board members and all Pennsylvanians living in a CIOC in delivering essential services, maintaining their infrastructure, and complying with applicable statutes governing their community. Similar legislation was recently adopted, and signed into law, in the state of Florida.

Tax Equalization

House Bill 551, also introduced by Rep. Scavello, would allow a unit owner in a common interest ownership community to deduct 75% of his or her association assessments from his or her personal income tax. The purpose of this legislation is to address the problem of residents of associations paying taxes for municipal services that are often not provided to them. CAI supports the adoption of this bill. 

Association Records and Open Meetings

Senate Bill 557, House Bill 319, and House Bill 1254 all address open meetings and open records in common interest ownership communities. CAI strongly agrees that the sharing of information and access to documentation are essential components of proper functioning of community association governance. However, there are laws and rules already in place that ensure openness and that unit owners have access to the records and documents of their community association. Furthermore, the adoption of this legislation will likely have several unintended consequences that will adversely impact the ability of associations to function properly. Adoption of certain provisions contained in these bills, including the use of recording devices during board meetings and the provisions regarding the application of fines for violations by board members, will have a serious chilling effect on the willingness of homeowners to serve on the board of directors within their communities. CAI seeks amendments to these bills that would make them less onerous on community associations and the volunteers who give of their time to help govern these communities.

Upcoming Legislative Programs

It has been a very active legislative session and CAI’s LAC will continue to advocate for legislation that serves the interests of those living in community associations in Pennsylvania. For more information, visit our legislative page, or join us at one of our upcoming legislative update programs in Harrisburg on October 9, the Poconos on October 23 and in Pittsburgh on November 14.

 


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