CAI Applauds Legislation Targeting Unjustified “Tax” Charged to Condos & HOAs

May 5, 2015


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE:             May 5, 2015

Contacts:
Tony Campisi, (610) 783-1315 x11
tony@cai-padelval.org     
www.cai-padelval.org

Jon Castelli, Office of Rep. Tom Caltagirone
(717) 783-0250
jcastell@pahouse.net

 

 CAI Applauds Legislation Targeting Unjustified “Tax” Charged to Condos & HOAs


King of Prussia, PA.: Community Associations Institute’s Pennsylvania Legislative Action Committee today announced its support of new legislation that would reign in skyrocketing fees charged by Recorder of Deeds in many counties across Pennsylvania.

House Bill 1101, introduced by Representative Tom Caltagirone (D-Berks County) would clarify the manner in which county Recorders of Deeds may assess fees regarding the amendment of declarations for condominiums or planned communities. Often, homeowners in a community association must vote to amend the declaration, sometimes to comply with state or federal requirements. Under state statute, all amendments to a declaration must be recorded. Unfortunately, what has historically been an administrative act at minimal expense, has become a large and growing financial burden.

Approximately one third of Pennsylvania counties have implemented a requirement to index each declaration amendment against each parcel number in the condominium or planned community, for which the Recorder of Deeds has adopted a “per parcel” fee as high as $10.00 or, in some counties, $15.00. For decades, such recordings were simply made against a “master parcel” – or the original recorded parcel upon the creation of an association – against which all other parcels and residents are automatically recorded.

“These charges have become a burden to community associations in these counties and bear no relation to the work necessary to perform the service. As such, we believe these fees are nothing more than an unjustified tax on community associations,” said Tony Campisi, CAI’s Executive Director.

CAI has documented various examples of this abusive practice. For example, in Montgomery County, Blue Bell Country Club Community Association filed a six page amendment in 2014. The association has 849 homes (parcels). Under the fee structure in effect in 2014, the Association was forced to pay an exorbitant recording fee of $8,731. In 2015, Montgomery County increased the per parcel fee from $10 to $15, meaning the recording fee for that amendment would have skyrocketed to over $12,000.  In neighboring Philadelphia County, the fee would have been $110.00. The practice is not limited to southeast Pennsylvania. Meadows of Hanover Community Association in Dauphin County paid $8,300 in fees to record changes to its declaration. In Washington County, Meadowbrook Homeowners Association, with 527 homes, was charged $845 to record a change to its declaration in 2009 after the community negotiated the fee down from $1,116. In neighboring Allegheny County, the fee would have been $150.

Other examples of skyrocketing fees for recording a change to an association declaration include:

  • Bucks County:  Villages of Flowers Mill (Langhorne, PA): three page amendment = $6,822 
  • Chester County:  Orchard Valley HOA (West Chester, PA) Changes to conform with state law = $1,862 
  • Montgomery County: Morgandale Condo Association (Lansdale, PA) Three page amendment to regulations = $5,738

Rep. Caltagirone believes this practice “abusive” and runs counter to legislative intent.

“Some counties have assessed several thousands of dollars in fees for a simple declaration amendment that was merely required to comply with state or federal law changes. I cannot stress enough how unreasonable this is,” he added.

Rep. Caltagirone’s legislation was introduced and referred to the House Urban Affairs Committee on May 4, 2015. Caltagirone serves as the Democratic Chair of the House Urban Affairs Committee and plans to urge the legislation to be subject for hearings in the coming months.

CAI is a 34,000 member organization dedicated to building better communities and represents the interests of an estimated 2.8 million Pennsylvania residents, comprising nearly onefourth of the state’s population, living in approximately 10,000-12,000 condominium associations, cooperative associations, and planned communities (homeowner associations) throughout Pennsylvania. Working in partnership with 60 state and regional chapters—including the Pennsylvania & Delaware Valley Chapter—CAI builds better communities through research and information, education and resources to associations and the professionals who support them. CAI’s mission is to inspire professionalism, effective leadership and responsible citizenship, ideals reflected in communities that are preferred places to call home.

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