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Pennsylvania Condo & HOA Articles Archive

/ Owner - July 2, 2012
  • Home Owner Association Snow Removal: Your Questions Answered (PA)
    It is November 15, and temperatures are forecast to reach almost 70 degrees later this week. Naturally, I am thinking about snow removal for condominiums and homeowners associations. Even though snowfall was almost nonexistent during the winter of 2022-23, boards need to prepare for the upcoming season and revisit some of the questions we discuss every year.   Read the article……………………………………
  • Wrongful death suit brought against landscaping, residential companies results in total $425K settlement (PA)
    Landscaping services and retail management companies has settled a lawsuit brought by a Delaware County man, who alleged negligence on its part and others led to his mother suffering a fall and injuries that led to her death, for a total of $425,000.   Read the article………………………..
  • Delayed Decisions On Accommodation Requests Lead To Trouble
    A recent federal court decision in U.S. v. The Dorchester Owners Association, No. 20-1396 (E.D. Penn. Jan. 25, 2023), is instructive as to how boards of directors can put their associations at risk when they fail to make timely final decisions on accommodation requests or impose unreasonable conditions in granting those requests. In this case, the requests were for emotional support animals, but the lessons learned here apply to any request for an accommodation under the Fair Housing Act (FHA).   Read the article………………………..
  • Big Changes to Condominium and Homeowners’ Association Elections are Coming This Summer: Part II (PA)
    Act 115 of 2022 will amend the Pennsylvania Uniform Condominium Act and the Uniform Planned Communities Act to change the ways meetings and elections are held. In Part One, I listed many ways that Act 115 will help communities. In this part, I will talk about some of the ways Act 115 may make things more difficult.   Read the article………………………..
  • Condo Charged with Discrimination for Delay in Approving Assistance Animal
    In a recent case out of Pennsylvania, a condominium association was found to have violated Fair Housing laws for its delay in approving requests for reasonable accommodation for an emotional support animal belonging to a resident and for imposing conditions on the animals’ use of the common area.   Read the article………………………..
  • Delayed Decisions On Accommodation Requests Lead To Trouble
    A recent federal court decision in U.S. v. The Dorchester Owners Association, No. 20-1396 (E.D. Penn. Jan. 25, 2023), is instructive as to how boards of directors can put their associations at risk when they fail to make timely final decisions on accommodation requests or impose unreasonable conditions in granting those requests.  Read the article………………………..
  • Big Changes to Condominium and Homeowners’ Association Elections are Coming This Summer: Part I (PA)
    New amendments to the Pennsylvania Uniform Condominium Act and Uniform Planned Communities Act (“UPCA”) will make huge changes in the way communities hold meetings and elections. These Amendments are found in House Bill 1795 (Act 115 of 2022). Some of these changes make it easier to hold meetings and vote electronically. Others will make it more difficult – and potentially more expensive – to hold elections. The new requirements take effect on May 3, 2023.    Read the article………………………..
  • Assistance Animals (AZ)
    A recent case in Pennsylvania, U.S. v. The Dorchester Owners Association, No. 20-1396 (E.D. Penn. Jan. 25, 2023), ruled that The Dorchester Owners Association (“Association”) engaged in discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) in connection with requests for assistance animals.   Read the article………………………..
  • House Bill 1795 Comes Alive! (PA)
    House Bill 1795 becomes effective May 2, 2023.  It has made changes and additions to Pennsylvania laws regarding community associations.  Read the article………………………..
  • Board Fiduciary Duty in the Community Association (PA)
    Read the article………………………..
  • Can you Ban Sex Offenders from Your Association? NO (PA)
    Issue: Can a private, planned community adopt a restrictive covenant that prohibits lifetime registered sex offenders from residing within that community?   Read the article………………………..
  • Breach of Personal Information in Community Associations – Updated (PA)
    Time flies. Since about 2010 I have been counseling community associations on risks involving potential breaches of personal information and the fact that Pennsylvania has a specific statute related to such breaches   Read the article………………………..
  • Associations Cannot Ban Sex Offenders from Community (PA)
    Many condominium and homeowners’ associations worry about people who are registered as sex offenders under the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), usually referred to as “Megan’s Law.” Many associations I work with have considered a range of ideas, from not allowing Megan’s Law registrants to use the community pool all the way to not allowing Megan’s Law registrants to own or rent units in the community. Up until now, there has not been much legal guidance on what an association can and cannot do. A recent case, Lake Naomi Club, Inc. v. Rosado, is the first Pennsylvania case to address some of these questions.     Read the article………………………..
  • Construction Defect: Why You Can’t Sue Your Builder’s Insurance Company (PA)
    As a litigation attorney, I meet with many clients seeking advice because their new home construction or renovation project was done poorly. Whether these homeowners are dealing with big or small construction companies, the same problems arise when it comes to construction defects.   Read the article………………………..
  • Delco man opposes landscaper’s desire for summary judgment, says negligence led to mother’s death (PA)
    A Delaware County man who alleged negligence on the part of a landscaping services company and others led to his mother suffering a fall on the property that caused injuries whose repairs later led to her death is opposing a summary judgment motion from that same landscaping company.   Read the article………………………..
  • Charge Me Up and Plug Me In….Let’s Think About Solar Panel and Electric Vehicle Legislation in Pennsylvania
    Read the article………………………..
  • Sign, Sign, Everwhere a Sign…..In My Association
    Every year, usually around election season, the signs come out.  Let’s discuss some recurring sign issues that pop up (pun intended) in community associations year after year.   Read the article………………………..
  • Landscaper wants summary judgment, in case where woman’s fall and treatment led to her death (PA)
    Gary L. Essaf Jr. (individually and as administrator of the Estate of Kathleen Essaf, deceased) of Broomall first filed suit in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas on Feb. 4, 2021 versus Danella Realty and Management Company, Inc. and Hilltop Condominium Association II, both of Blue Bell.   Read the article………………………..
  • Larry Santucci on Philadelphia’s Racially Restrictive Covenants and Their Lasting Effects
    Access to homeownership and quality housing is vital to a strong U.S. economy. As part of our efforts to examine historical barriers to housing and their lasting effects, the Philadelphia Fed released an interactive map of the city of Philadelphia that explores the use of racial covenants: language added to deeds that prevented non-White individuals from buying or renting property.  Read the article………………………..
  • Condominiums, Homeowners’ Associations and Bankruptcy: The Lifecycle of a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
    In Part 4 of this series, I discussed how the Automatic Stay stops collection efforts against Unit Owners. In this entry, I want to go through a typical timeline for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy case — mostly from the Association’s perspective. I do not intend this to be an exact breakdown of the Bankruptcy Court’s filing deadlines and procedures. Rather, this is more of a general, “what to expect” timeline.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Surfside Towers Collapse Causes Tighter Maintenance and Capital Reserve Requirements for Associations (PA)
    It has been about half a year since the terrible collapse of Champlain Tower South in Surfside, Florida. Because of this tragedy, condominium and homeowners’ association boards and owners have been concerned about the structural safety of their buildings. And now Associations are facing hard questions from mortgage companies concerning both maintenance and capital reserve balances.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Your Association Can Now Be Sued for Defamation in Any County Where an Internet-based Publication Occurs (PA)
    Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Condominiums, Homeowners’ Associations and Bankruptcy: The Lifecycle of a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy (PA)
    In this entry, I want to go through a typical timeline for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy case — mostly from the Association’s perspective. I do not intend this to be an exact breakdown of the Bankruptcy Court’s filing deadlines and procedures. Rather, this is more of a general, “what to expect” timeline.    Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign….In My Association (PA)
    Every year, usual;ly around election time, the signs come out.  Let’s discuss some recurring sign issues that pop up (pun intended) in community associations year after year.Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Avoiding Litigation in Your Community Association
    As a Community Association attorney, I’ve been on both sides of the fence as it relates to association litigation. Whether I am initiating litigation against others on behalf of the association or defending the association for claims brought by others, the following holds true: litigation is expensive, time-consuming and emotionally draining for those involved.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Court Rules That Attorney Client Privilege Waived With Ghost Written Disclaimer Letter
    Two courts recently held that a disclaimer drafted by an insurer’s in-house or outside counsel and sent from the adjuster may constitute a waiver of the attorney client privilege.  In Canyon Estates Condo. Association v. Atain Specialty Ins. Co., No. 18-1761 (W.D. Wash. Jan. 22, 2020),), the court addressed the insured’s attempt to compel the production of unredacted copies of co-defendant, Great Lakes Insurance’s claim file.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Condominiums, Homeowners’ Associations and Bankruptcy: The Automatic Stay
    In the last installment of the series, I went through some of the terms that Associations need to know when a Unit Owner files for Bankruptcy. This edition will talk about the “Automatic Stay” and how it affects Creditors like an Association. The first thing to remember is that Bankruptcy is a way to allow people who have debts to get a fresh start. The Automatic Stay gives Debtors some cooling off time. It is a period where Debtors do not have to worry about anyone trying to collect against them.  Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Can an Association Invest Its Capital Reserve Funds? (PA)
    Has your Board, especially if it has a financial professional on it, ever looked with dismay at the low interest that a Capital Reserve Fund is earning? They may think that if they could get a better return on that Reserve Fund, then they could do more projects. Or they could reduce assessments.    Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Condominiums, Homeowners’ Associations and Bankruptcy: What is an “Automatic Stay” and Other Terms You Need to Know (PA)
    In the last installment of this series, I explained that Bankruptcy is a federal law designed to help people who owe money get a fresh start. In this part, I want to explain some terms that are helpful to remember.  These are going to be the way that I think of the terms – in plain English. If you want to see the definitions in the official United States Bankruptcy Code, you can look here.    Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Condominiums, Homeowners’ Associations and Bankruptcy: What is Bankruptcy? (PA)
    This is the statement that comes at the very top of the page for the United States Bankruptcy Courts. Every accountant and attorney who has ever taken a class on Bankruptcy has heard this said in the first five minutes of the first day of class.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Peace of the Puzzle
    Article in CAI’s Common Ground about avoiding conflict in your community Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Reminders for Condominiums and Homeowners’ Associations: People Coming Out of Their Homes Edition (PA)
    Now that the weather is warming, residents are taking to the sidewalks, walking trails and open spaces of their Community Associations. Here are some reminders for property managers and board members.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Reopening……..Pools, Clubhouses and Amenities, Oh My! (PA)
    Over the last month or so, with COVID vaccinations becoming more commonplace and governmental restrictions easing to some extent, Hoffman Law LLC clients have been inquiring about reopening pools, clubhouses and other amenities.  Read the article…………………………………..
  • Don’t Lose Your Name! Has Your Non-Profit Community Association Filed its Decennial Report? (PA)
    Your community association may, or may not, have received a postcard from the Pennsylvania Department of State as it relates to filing a Decennial Report. I’ve been getting some questions related to what this is all about, so I thought I would share my thoughts on this issue with you.    Read the article……………………………….
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Fair Housing in Your Community Association (PA)
    When a board member or community manager hears the phrase “fair housing”, many thoughts come to mind regarding what this means, and how it may impact their association, but, more often than not, their perceptions are based on historical misinformation passed on to them by others who themselves did not properly understand fair housing. The purpose of this blog post is to properly educate community leaders on fair housing laws and principles and to discuss real-word application to community associations in 2020 and beyond.    Read the article………………………………..
  • Condominiums and Corona: Managing Risk and Residents’ Expectations as Pennsylvania Recovers From the Pandemic
    As we settle in to another week of pandemic life in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties, residents of condominiums and planned communities may be susceptible to spread by virtue of their proximity to neighbors and access to shared amenities. Governor Wolf’s standing order, coupled with the CDC’s health directives, impose vague but important guidelines.     Read the article……………………………
  • Does My Association Really Need Director and Officer (D&O) Liability Insurance?
    Based upon many years of serving as counsel for and defending associations in all types of litigation, my answer to the above question is yes. However, exactly what is Director & Officer (D&O) Liability Insurance, and what does it cover?  Read the article………………………….
  • Should HOAs Publish a List of Delinquent Owners? (PA)
    I am not going to beat around the bush here: it is generally a horrible idea to “publish” a list of delinquent owners for others to see, even if the governing documents in the community provide that it is permissible. This is even true if a delinquency list is not posted electronically but is still published in paper form and posted on the clubhouse bulletin board to “shame” the delinquent owner (which was the original intent of provisions in governing documents which allowed for such actions)  Read the article………………………
  • An Introduction to Short Sales and Foreclosures for Community Associations
    More than ever before, community associations are coping with financial shortfalls caused in no small part by the burst of the housing bubble and seemingly non-existent economic growth. Two issues which associations frequently encounter are short sales and foreclosures. This Blog post will discuss the implications of short sales and foreclosures as each relates to the community association.   Read the article………………………….
  • What is a Nuisance and What Does it Mean to Your Association? What Boards and Managers Need to Know
    When a board member or community manager hears the phrase “nuisance”, many thoughts come to mind regarding what this means, and how it may impact their association, but, more often than not, most do not know what a nuisance really is and what the association may need to do to deal with a nuisance. The purpose of this post is to properly educate community leaders on nuisance principles and to discuss real-word application to community associations.    Read the article……………………………
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Fair Housing in Your Community Association (PA)
    When a board member or community manager hears the phrase “fair housing”, many thoughts come to mind regarding what this means, and how it may impact their association, but, more often than not, their perceptions are based on historical misinformation passed on to them by others who themselves did not properly understand fair housing. The purpose of this blog post is to properly educate community leaders on fair housing laws and principles and to discuss real-word application to community associations in 2020 and beyond. Read the article……………………….
  • Properly Handling Your Community Association’s Online Presence
    It’s almost 2020, and chances are, your community association has a virtual presence on the Internet. Whether your association runs its own website, has a site run by a management company or some other third-party vendor, or is active on a social media site, association leaders and Managers should take some steps in order to protect the community association from potential legal problems.     Read the article…………………………
  • Holiday decorating in the Community Association … Is it a decoration, religious symbol or a religious display? (PA)
    Here come the holidays, and here come the decorations. But not every decoration is only a decoration … some decorations are just decorations but other things can be considered religious displays or religious symbols, which means that the things that owners put out can mean different things to different people. Also, some things are not merely decorative in nature; rather, they are either required by the religion or are part of a religious practice or tradition. So how do we handle all of this in a community association?   Read the article…………………………..
  • Avoiding Inconsistent Enforcement in Your Association … Community Leaders Take Heed
    Inconsistent, or selective, enforcement of covenants, restrictions and rules & regulations by a Community Association is, unfortunately, a frequent occurrence. Community leaders must understand that inconsistent enforcement by an Association for even a minor issue can lead to major liability for an Association. This article will explore some of the issues surrounding inconsistent enforcement and will discuss ways to avoid potential liability for inconsistent enforcement.    Read the article…………………………..
  • Emerging Issues in Planned Community and Condominium Disputes (PA)
    From disagreements over short-term rentals to an infamous Tigger mailbox that elevated a neighborhood dispute all the way to the Commonwealth Court,1 Pennsylvania has seen a growing trend in litigation involving unit owners’ associations established under the Pennsylvania Uniform Planned Community Act 2 (the PC Act) and the Pennsylvania Uniform Condominium Act3 (the Condo Act). Claims under the PC Act and the Condo Act, however, can involve much more than neighborly squabbles.     Readthe article………………………..
  • Associations are Only Required to Make Reasonable Accommodations, Not All Accommodations
    This is a post about reasonable accommodations that does not involve an emotional support animal. I cannot remember the last time I did not write about dogs. Recently, the Pennsylvania Federal Courts ruled that an Association does not need to provide the exact accommodation requested, if the Association offers accommodations that achieve the same function.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Pennsylvania Man Not Entitled to Attorneys’ Fees in Homeowners Association Declaration Amendment Lawsuit
    The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled this month that a man from Pittsburgh is not entitled to recover attorneys’ fees and court costs from litigation he won against his homeowners association. Matthew Serota filed suit against the London-Towne Homeowners Association in 2015 after the association amended its Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (the “Declaration”) to allow only one vote per owner rather than one vote per home.     Read the article………………
  • Court rules in favor of West Chester homeowner’s association sued by woman who slipped on fallen branches (PA)
    The Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a ruling relieving Indian King Residents Association (IKRA) of liability for a resident’s injuries.  Plaintiff-appellant Ruthann Hackett injured herself in 2013 after slipping on fallen branches in a common area managed by IKRA.  The court determined that appellant was a licensee on the land. In the ruling, Judge Jacqueline O. Shogan noted that “a possessor of land is subject to liability for physical harm caused to licensees by a condition on the land in designated circumstances…”     Read the article………………
  • Policyholder accuses State Farm and Firstline insurance companies of not covering losses to Brookhaven property (PA)
    A policyholder whose apartment suffered physical loss and damages claims that a pair of major insurance companies have failed and refused to provide her the coverage that was due her in this situation, under those same policies.  Miesja Cubito of Brookhaven filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on May 22 versus State Farm Fire and Casualty Company of Bloomington, Ill. and Firstline National Insurance Company, of Bel Air, Md.  According to the suit, State Farm had issued a policy to Trimble Run Condominium Association covering Cubito’s apartment property     Read the article………………..
  • Hills and Ridges Doctrine May Provide Protection to Property Owners in Slip-and-Falls (PA)
    In Collins v. Philadelphia Suburban Development, 2018 Pa. Super. LEXIS 72 (Jan. 31, 2018), the Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently upheld a verdict against a slip and fall plaintiff who filed a negligence claim against a property sidewalk owner, Philadelphia Suburban Development Corp. (PSDC), and a snow removal company, Ross’s Home Improvement (Ross), following a slip-and-fall incident that occurred during an active blizzard.    Read the article……………
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