United States: Herrick Associate, Jamie McMahon, Fights For Legislation In The Pennsylvania State Capitol With The Community Associations Institute
Last Updated: April 25 2014

Herrick Associate, Jamie McMahon, met with various State Representatives during the Community Associations Institute's Legislative Action Day in Harrisburg on April 2, 2014 and argued for legislation that would benefit community associations in Pennsylvania.

Jamie argued for the passage of the Planned Unit Development Data Collection Act, House Bill 1688, which would require county governments to collect and make available data regarding condominium associations, cooperative housing developments and planned communities in Pennsylvania.  The data collected would include information such as the community association's name, physical location, land area, lot size, number of units, infrastructure age, and articles of incorporation or other non-profit organization registration information filed with the Department of State.  As confirmed by the Joint State Government Commission's report on Common Interest Ownership Communities, commonly referred to as community associations, in 2011, no state agency, county or municipality in Pennsylvania is required to collect this type of information.  Despite the fact that it is estimated 2.8 million Pennsylvania residents live in a community association, Pennsylvania does not maintain a list of all associations within the state and lacks even basic information regarding the associations such as the amount of taxes paid by unit owners, the number of units within each association and the types of infrastructure in these communities. 

If passed, House Bill 1688 would significantly benefit community associations, managers, elected board members and unit owners living in an association.  Most notably, the information collected as a result of the Bill would provide legislators and associations with the ability to accurately determine and analyze the effects of proposed legislation.  For example, the New Jersey Municipal Services Act allows community associations to apply for a rebate to be reimbursed from their municipal government for services provided by the association, such as street maintenance.  If similar legislation is proposed in Pennsylvania, solid evidence regarding the cost of the legislation and the number of residents it would benefit would increase the likelihood of the bill being passed. 

House Bill 1688 was introduced by House Representative Mario Scavello and referred to the House Local Government Committee on September 19, 2013.

Jamie also argued for the passage of the Homeowners Association Contributions Tax Deduction, House Bill 551, which would permit a unit owner in a community association to deduct 75% of his or her common expense assessments from his or her personal income tax.  Typically, unit owners are fully taxed by their municipalities despite the fact that certain municipal services, such as trash collection services, are often not provided to them.  These services are then provided by the association and paid for by the unit owners through common expense assessments.  Many consider this to be a form of "double taxation" and, if passed, House Bill 551 will attempt to provide a resolution to this issue. 

House Bill 551 was also introduced by House Representative Mario Scavello and referred to the House Finance Committee on February 6, 2013.

In addition, Jamie discussed legislation drafted by the Community Associations Institute that has not yet been introduced, which will address the requirement imposed by certain counties to index each amendment to a declaration against each parcel number in a community association with a "per parcel" fee.  For example, in Montgomery County, the fee to record an amendment to a declaration is $10.00 per parcel.  As a result, an amendment to a declaration for a 300 unit condominium association will cost at least $3,000.00.  Community associations are required by law to record all amendments to a declaration, which makes the "per parcel" fee a huge financial burden to associations that could inhibit their ability to comply with the law. 

Jamie also argued against the adoption of Senate Bill 1302, which would, among other things, increase the requirements for meeting quorums, and discussed necessary amendments to House Bill 319, House Bill 1254 and Senate Bill 557 generally regarding open meeting procedures.

Jamie is closely monitoring legislation related to community associations in Pennsylvania and will continue to keep you updated.

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