Legislative Alert: Contact Your PA State Legislators

Jul 1, 2015

 

CAI's Pennsylvania Legislative Action Committee is calling on all members in Pennsylvania to contact your state Representative today to urge them to support legislation to reign in skyrocketing fees for recording changes to association declarations in a growing number of Pennsylvania's counties.  CAI has documented a number of community associations around the state that have been forced to pay thousands of dollars in recording fees when filing an amendment to the community association's declaration. 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.  Additionally, in some instances Declaration amendments are required to comply with Federal law requirements, as in the case with FHA or FNMA regulations. CAI supports adoption of House Bill 1101 which would bring filing fees down to reasonable levels. HB1101 was introduced by State Rep. Tom Caltagirone (D-127) on May 4, 2015, but the Bill has been stuck in committee since then. 

Find out more about this important legislation at this link.  

Your help is needed to urge the House Urban Affairs Committee to call a hearing on the legislation and vote the Bill out of committee. CAI's PA LAC urges all members, and all homeowners who live in a Pennsylvania condominium or homeowners association, to contact your state representatives in two ways.

1. Tweet your State Representative. Please follow these instructions:

 

 

2. Email your State Representative. Please follow these instructions:

 

  • Click here to find your State Representative in our system using your zip code.
  • Enter your Zip Code in the "Contact Your Legislators" box. A new browser window will open called "Pennsylvania Legislative Action Center. 
  • Enter your address and city in the boxes in the middle of the page and click "go".
  • On the next page, click the link for your State Representative, then click the tab for "Contact."
  • On the next page, click the link to Contact Your Rep. via Email.
  • In the Compose Message window, enter the following for Subject: Support House Bill 1101. 
  • Copy and paste the letter below into the Editable Text box. Be sure to add the the name of your Representative, as well as your own  name at the bottom of the letter.

 

Finally, it is very important that CAI track the number of contacts made to legislators on this issue. After you have sent a message to your legislator, please email tony@cai-padelval.org to let us know that you have made contact with your legislator on this issue.

Thank you for taking the time to communicate with your state representative on this important issue.  

Letter to Your State Representative 

Dear State Representative______________:

I am one of the many Pennsylvanians living in a community association (condominium or planned community). As such, I am writing to express my support for House Bill 1101.   Recently, many county Recorders of Deeds have been assessing huge and unnecessary fees to record amendment to declarations for condominiums or planned communities (commonly called homeowners associations). The declaration is the governing document of our community, essentially, our constitution. Changing it is not, and should not, be easy. Nor should it be a financial burden or cost prohibitive.

The Pennsylvania Uniform Condominium Act (UCA) Uniform Planned Community Act (UPCA) require all amendments to declarations to be recorded. And the law requires the Recorder to index these against the name of our association in the grantor and grantee indices. That is all.

Unfortunately, this simple requirement and the minimal recording fees we would have to pay have become a huge financial burden in some counties.  Over one-third of all counties in the Commonwealth have implemented a requirement to index each amendment against each tax parcel number in the condominium or planned community.  And they have been charging a “per parcel” recording fee as high as $10 or $20 per home. For a community association with 500 homes, the fee to record a simple Declaration Amendment of four pages in a county that charges $20 per parcel would cost us in excess of $10,000.

Our association is required to change our declaration to comply with FHA and Fannie Mae requirements from time to time. What used to cost $100 to $200 is now costing thousands of dollars, for no required reason at all.

Such fees are not only absurdly high, but they bear no relation to the work required to record these documents.  Because recording amendments is a legal requirement, such fees could prevent communities such as mine and others in your district from complying with the UCA or the UPCA.  Because Declaration Amendments are not planned in advance and are often done to comply with federal laws and regulations, the association budget usually does not plan for such a huge cost. The need to pay an exorbitant fee of thousands of dollars may mean the grass doesn’t get cut as often as it should or maintenance projects may be postponed in order to scrape together the funds to afford such a high administrative fee.

Homeowners in Pennsylvania community associations do not need the burden of an unjustified, arbitrary and absurdly high recording fee when we are already faced with increased costs for insurance, snow removal, maintenance and other costs associated with the operation of our community association.

I urge you to support House Bill 1101 to bring filing fees to reasonable levels, and to prevent counties from imposing these exorbitant charges on a significant number of Pennsylvania’s homeowners. 

Very kind regards,
Your name

 


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