PA LAC Prepares Legislative Push for Two Important Measures

Mar 1, 2014

On April 2, 2014, CAI and the Legislative Action Committee will hold its annual event at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg.   Each year, members and representatives of CAI meet with legislators to discuss issues specifically relevant to the condominium and homeowners association industry.

Although the LAC benefits from daily representation through its lobbying group, I cannot sufficiently stress the importance of face-to-face meetings between constituents and legislators.   No one conveys information more accurately, passionately, or effectively, than those who are directly impacted by proposed new laws.  The results achieved by CAI through these efforts are plainly evident.   While examples are numerous, the LAC recently negotiated amendments to HB1122 (legislation which extended the conversion period from 7 to 10 years) assuring that transition from declarant to homeowner governance would not be impacted by extension of the conversion period.  For 2014, the LAC will seek support on legislation proposed by CAI concerning fees charged by Pennsylvania counties to record amendments to a declaration, and the collection of association statistical data by county offices.

 Recording Fees:   Pursuant to the Pennsylvania Uniform Condominium Act (UCA), and the Uniform Planned Community Act (UPCA) , all amendments to a declaration must be recorded.  Unfortunately, what has historically been an administrative act at minimal expense, has become a large financial burden.  A number of counties have implemented a requirement to index each amendment against each parcel number in the condominium or planned community.  And, for indexing amendments against each parcel number, these counties have adopted a “per parcel” fee.  In Montgomery County, for example, the fee is $10.00 per parcel.   Accordingly, an amendment to a 250-unit Association will cost, at a minimum, $2,500.00.   Such fees are not only absurdly high, they bear no relation to the work required to record documents.  Moreover, as recording is a legal requirement, such fees could prevent associations from complying with the UCA or the UPCA.  CAI is currently working on legislation to bring filing fees down to reasonable levels, and to prevent counties from imposing these exorbitant charges.

Data Collection:  Members of the Pennsylvania legislature continue to propose bills which directly or indirectly, require identification and statistical data about condominium and condominium associations.  For example, the recently proposed creation of a condominium ombudsman office included a per-unit fee to be paid to the State. Unfortunately, information on the number of affected units is not available.  Similarly, the impact of municipal services legislation cannot properly be evaluated without accurate data on the name, location, and size of associations within a particular county. In order to make such analysis possible, and to assure compliance by associations with applicable law, CAI has proposed legislation requiring collection of identifying data at the municipal level.

As I believe every association will eventually be impacted by these issues, your help in conveying their importance to you as homeowner, manager, or professional, is vital.  Personal attendance will not only support the daily operation of your association, it will provide you with the opportunity to participate in the governmental process.  I have personally participated in these events for many years, and always found it rewarding and insightful.   Please join us and support CAI.  I doubt you’ll regret the experience.


Stefan Richter, Esq., with Clemons, Richter & Reiss, PC, is Chair of CAI’s Pennsylvania Legislative Action Committee

 


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