PA LAC Testifies at Hearing on Recording Fees

Aug 3, 2016

Members of CAI's Pennsylvania Legislative Action Committee gave testimony in support of Senate Bill 1282 / House Bill 1101 at a hearing of the House Urban Affairs Committee on July 28, 2016 at the Bucks County Administration Building in Doylestown. The Bills would reign in skyrocketing fees charged by Recorder of Deeds in many counties across Pennsylvania for amendments to community association declarations.

House Bill 1101, introduced by Representative Tom Caltagirone (D-Berks County) on May 4, 2015, 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. 

Senate Bill 1282 is nearly identical to House Bill 1101, but also includes cooperatives in the reform language. The Bill was introduced by Senator Scott Wagner (R-York County) on June 2, 2016 and passed the Senate by a vote of  48-2 on June 30, 2016.

During the hearing, where representatives of the County Commissioners Association and the Pennsylvania Recorder of Deeds Association testified against the Bill, a potential comprise was discussed, which would require counties that have implemented the unified parcel identifier system to assign a master parcel number to the community association which would negate the need to assign a declaration amendment to every parcel in the community. Committee Chair Rep. Scott Petri has indicated a desire to move compromise language out of the House before the end of the current legislative session this Fall.

CAI will continue to keep members informed of the progress of this legislation. Be sure to check our website for updates and make sure you are receiving our legislative alerts via email. Click here to make sure you are subscribed and include "info@cai-padelval.org" in your email address book to make sure our emails get by your spam filters.

 

 


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