Real Estate Law Topics
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Ronald B. Glazer Selected by His Peers for Inclusion in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America
Congratulations to Ronald B. Glazer of Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel, for selection by his peers for inclusion in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® in Real Estate Law. The latest edition has been released publicly and is now available on www.bestlawyers.com.
HOA Code of Conduct
For many years I have been including a code of conduct dealing with behavior at meetings in the association’s governing documents and providing methods for its enforcement. After having to deal with rude disruptions, harassment and even physical attacks, it becomes clear that some means of trying to assure courteousness and respect is appropriate. In your association, it may be appropriate to go beyond behavior at meetings and to also deal with treating neighbors and staff civilly. In common interest ownership communities, occupants must be willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of coexisting peacefully. Occupants must practice self-restraint and show respect for others. The type of activities and expressions of discontent to be prohibited in a code of conduct must be carefully determined in order not to impinge on legitimate first amendment expression of opinions and free speech. An association must also determine whether or not prohibitions should be imposed on the association, board members and staff also. Electronic communications should also be dealt with. Needless to say, any kind of physical or verbal assault should be prohibited. Prohibit abusive language because of its profanity and or loudness with an emphasis on prohibiting threats and harassment. The code should require compliance with meeting rules and regulations. Creating risk of harm to persons or property or impairing the rights of others should not be permitted. It requires skill for the chairperson of a meeting to allow free expression, while at the same time maintaining proper decorum. Enforcement must be consistent and follow prescribed steps. The usual enforcement tools are fines and denial of use of particular facilities. I do not advocate barring the offender from meetings, but guards or police may be appropriate to permit business to be conducted. About the Author Mr. Ronald B. Glazer is considered a national authority in the field of condominiums and homeowners’ associations. He has authored a number of published articles on various aspects of real estate law and has chaired panels and lectured for numerous organizations, including the International Council of Shopping Centers, the National Banking Law Institute, the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Bar Associations, the Practicing Law Institute and several commercial program providers. It is the author’s intention to post from time to time articles to help those living in, managing and dealing with common interest ownership communities (condominiums, residential cooperatives and homeowners associations). If you have any comments or questions, please contact Ron at 215 893 4969 or email@example.com. Download the white paper
Notice of Increased Real Estate Tax Assessments
Notices of Increased Real Estate Tax Assessments in the City of Philadelphia The Office of Property Assessment, starting in April, has sent owners of commercial and industrial properties in Philadelphia notices of reassessment of property values. This involved a thorough analysis of some of Philadelphia’s most complex and high-valued parcels, including hotels, office buildings, and apartment buildings. Also reassessed were all retail properties, warehouses, commercially-zoned vacant land, and properties with multiple uses. The new property values take effect for Tax Year 2018, with property taxes due on February 28, 2018. Written notices of the new values are being mailed and, for comparison, can be seen at http://www.phila.gov/OPA/Pages/PropertyInformation.aspx . Beginning in Fiscal Year 2018, the OPA will conduct annual reassessments of all 579,000 properties in the city, including residential and commercial. Condo units have been considered undervalued for assessment purposes and most are being increased substantially. Also, residential and commercial properties enjoying the benefit of the 10 year tax abatement will be affected. The abatements apply only to new improvements and there is no abatement on the tax on the land value. OPA has announced that it believes that land in the City is under assessed and these assessments will increase. Whether or not this will be matched by a decrease in assessed values of the buildings and improvements remains to be seen. We at Astor Weiss are staying on top of this situation and are in the process of filing appeals for clients. Please ask your questions and discuss the 2018 substantial increases in real estate taxes and the City Use and Occupancy Tax by calling Ron Glazer, David Mandel or Therese Allison at 215-790-0100. You may have us request a First Level Review (FLR) by filing no later than May 26, 2017. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the review or decide to skip the FLR process altogether, you may have us file a Formal Appeal with the Board of Revision of Taxes (BRT). Formal appeals are due to the BRT by the first Monday in October (October 2, 2017).
Changes affecting Commercial Powers of Attorney in Pennsylvania
On October 4, 2016, Governor Wolf signed into law House Bill 665 (Act 103 of 2016) which clarified certain sections of the Pennsylvania power of attorney law that went in effect on January 2, 2015 (Act 95 of 2014). The changes were aimed at correcting issues with commercial powers of attorney. All changes in Act 103 took effect on October 4, 2016 and apply retroactively to January 2, 2015 (i.e., the effective date of Act 95). 1. Commercial Powers of Attorney are not Subject to the Notarization or Acknowledgement Requirement Under Act 95, all powers of attorney executed after January 1, 2015 had to be witnessed by two individuals and be notarized or acknowledged. While commercial powers of attorney were not required to obtain two witnesses, they were subject to the notarization or acknowledgement requirement. The notarization/acknowledgement requirement was a cumbersome requirement in the commercial setting. Act 103 now excludes commercial powers of attorney from the notarization or acknowledgement requirement (unless the document is being recorded). 2. Agent Duties not Applicable to Commercial Powers of Attorney Act 95 made agents of all powers of attorney subject to certain duties. One of those duties required the agent to act in the best interest of the principal. This requirement was difficult for agents under commercial powers of attorney where the agent was authorized to enforce a security agreement or execute a confession of judgment against the principal, particularly in a loan or lease situation. In order to comply with the law, banks and attorneys inserted lengthy waiver language into the documents. Act 103 now exempts agents under commercial powers of attorney from the standard agent duties. 3. Expanded Definition of Commercial Powers of Attorney Under Act 95, the only powers of attorney for entities (i.e., corporations, LLCs, partnerships, etc.) that were exempt from certain statutory requirements were powers of attorney that were “contained in the governing documents” of an entity or powers of attorney in a voting proxy. This definition was limiting and not in-line with other states. Act 103 expands the definition of commercial powers of attorney that are exempt from the statutory requirements to also include any power of attorney that is “authorized by the law that governs the internal affairs of a legal entity” or “which a director, shareholder, partner, member or manager authorizes others to do things on behalf of the entity.” 4. Attorneys may Acknowledge Powers of Attorney Under Act 95 it was not clear if an attorney could acknowledge a power of attorney. Act 103 confirms that an attorney may acknowledge the execution of a power of attorney provided the attorney was not a witness to the power of attorney and such acknowledgement was in a manner that is authorized by law. Conclusion The changes in Act 103 correct the issues that Act 95 created for powers of attorney used in commercial transactions and provide some much needed clarity for attorneys and commercial institutions. If you have questions or would like additional information regarding the impact of Act 103 on commercial powers of attorney, please contact David Workman, David Mandel or Daniel Levine.
Changes to Mechanics Lien Law
Are you a residential owner of real estate? Are you looking to make improvements to your home? Perhaps you have just purchased a gorgeous new property thanks to a real estate agent like Reali? If so, you should read the following alert with respect to recent changes made to the Pennsylvania Mechanics’ Lien Law (the “Lien Law”). On July 9, 2014, the Lien Law was amended to provide, in part, protection for residential property owners against the filing of mechanics’ liens. The amended Lien Law took effect on September 7, 2014. Section 201(14) of the Lien Law defines residential property as “property on which there is or will be constructed a residential building not more than three stories in height, not including any basement level, regardless of whether any portion of that basement is at grade level…” Section 301(a) of the Lien Law states that every improvement and the estate of title of the owner in the improved property is subject to a lien for the payment of all debts by the owner to the contractor, or by the contractor to any of its subcontractors, for labor or materials furnished in the erection, construction, alteration or repair of the improvement, provided that the amount of the claim exceeds $500.00. However, Section 301(b) states that a subcontractor does not have the right to a lien with respect to an improvement to a residential property if (1) the owner or tenant paid the full contract price to the contractor, (2) the property is or is intended to be used as the residence of the owner or subsequent to occupation by the owner, a tenant of the owner, and (3) the residential property is a single townhouse or a building that consists of one or two dwelling units used, intended or designed to be built, used, rented or leased for living purposes. One major difference between how work done for residential and non-residential property is distinguished in the Lien Law revolves around when a contractor or subcontractor may waive their rights to assert a mechanics’ lien. A contractor or subcontractor may waive the right to assert a mechanics’ lien against residential property, but waivers with respect to non-residential property are against public policy unless given for payment actually received, or in exchange for a bond by a contractor guaranteeing payment to subcontractors. Further, a waiver validly provided by a contractor is binding against a subcontractor only if the subcontractor has actual notice of such waiver before any labor or materials were furnished by him, or if such contract was filed in the office of the Prothonotary (1) prior to the commencement of the work upon the ground or (2) within ten days after the execution of the principal contract or (3) not less than then days prior to the contract with the subcontractor. What happens if a contractor files a mechanics’ lien against your property? The July 9, 2014 amendment to the Lien Law provides some new and additional defenses. An owner of residential property may discharge a mechanics’ lien against such property “upon a court order issued in response to a petition or motion to the court by the owner, if “the owner or tenant has paid the full contract price to the contractor.” Further, in a situation where the owner of residential property paid an amount to the contractor that is less than the sum of the contract price, the amount of any such lien shall be reduced to the amount of the unpaid contract price owed by the owner to the contractor. Please contact real estate attorney David Mandel at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions regarding the Mechanic’s Lien Law.
Changes to Power of Attorney Law
On July 2, 2014, the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania enacted Act 95 which amends Title 20 (Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. Act 95, amongst other modifications, provides for the form of power of attorney, for the implementation of the power of attorney and for liability, and provides validity to the power of attorney. Act 95 became effective on January 1, 2015 and affects all instruments used in commercial transactions which include a clause to confess judgment. Specifically, Act 95 states that for instruments used in commercial transactions that include a warrant of attorney conferring authority to confess judgment, such instrument must be “acknowledged before a notary public or other individual authorized by law to take acknowledgments.” The customary documents which typically incorporate a warrant of attorney conferring authority to confess judgment include, but are not limited to, promissory notes, mortgages, guaranty agreements and commercial lease agreements. In layman’s terms, if documents that incorporate a confession of judgment clause are not notarized, the warrants of attorney to confess judgment will not be enforceable. Prior to Act 95, it was generally the practice of Pennsylvania practitioners to only require that documents be notarized when they were to be recorded in the public records. However, as a result of the provision of Act 95, moving forward, ALL instruments used in commercial transactions which contain a confession of judgment provision and/or “attorney-in-fact” provision should now be acknowledged before a notary. Additionally, it is also prudent to have all amendment and modification documents which reinstate a confession of judgment provision to be acknowledged before a notary public. Please contact Daniel Levine, Esquire at email@example.com if you have any questions regarding Title 20 or Act 95. Daniel Levine can also be contacted if you require the services of a real estate attorney. Philadelphia residents and those in the surrounding areas can seek legal counsel from the lawyers at Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel, LLP. Visit the website at https://astorweiss.com/ to learn more about each lawyer and their respective practice areas. Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel, LLP attorneys have many years of valuable experience to help clients with any of their legal issues.
Due Diligence-Residential Property
Knowing the home-buying basics (see https://rodrockhomes.com/home-buying-basics/) is one of the many steps you can take towards purchasing a property. Prior to purchase, it is the responsibility of the buyer to perform a thorough inspection of the property, often referred to as “due diligence.” The whole process of buying a house means there is a lot to consider. Just like when you are looking at properties, using the services of real estate companies like William Pitt Realty can at least take some of the pressure off when it comes to finding this house that meets your requirements. The same goes for the inspection too. For anything though, be sure to take your time to decide, as this is a big decision for anyone. Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel, a real estate firm, recommends that due diligence is always performed as the primary step when purchasing property, like an Aurora condo for sale, as it will save time and money in the long run. In order to ensure due diligence, a buyer must perform 4 inspection tasks. Although a buyer can perform these inspections on their own, it is wise to enlist in the services of a professional real estate attorney. Philadelphia residents who are interested in purchasing property should consider the following: A buyer must obtain and review the title report and underlying exceptions In its basic form, a title description contains the status of a property. A title report is one of the most important documents a buyer can receive from the seller as it includes written descriptions of the property, such as the name of the titleholders, the type of tenancy, tax rate, encumbrances, and property taxes. By obtaining and reviewing this information, buyers can ensure that there are no outstanding factors that can prevent them from legally purchasing the property. A buyer attain a Phase I Environmental Inspection In addition to assessing the property themselves, buyers must attain a Phase I Environmental Inspection report that will identify any problems or environmental contaminations. This precaution is intended to protect the health of individuals who move into the property. For example, a toxic condition could potentially be deadly to anybody who plans to spend an extended period of time on the property. A buyer must review any leases currently in effect If there is a contractual agreement, or a lease, currently in effect it could prevent the buyer from purchasing the property. Although there are certain conditions in which a lease can be terminated sooner than its end date, this may cause too much of a hassle for some home buyers. A buyer must review the zoning jacket and inspect the structure of the building Depending on the municipality, each state in America has its own set of zoning laws that affect land use, lot size, building heights, density, setbacks and other factors. Buyers should make sure they have reviewed the zoning jacket and compared it with their inspection of the property’s structure. … If you are currently in the process of buying property but have yet to perform due diligence on your prospective home or building, consider contacting a real estate attorney. Philadelphia’s Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel attorneys specialize in real estate as well as other areas of law including, family law, tax law, and estate planning. To learn more about how Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel LLP’s other legal services visit https://astorweiss.com/ or contact one of their offices.
Due Diligence-Commercial Property
Generally, a buyer will purchase commercial property in its “as-is”, “where-is” and “with all faults” condition. The two biggest protections the buyer has when purchasing a property is the representations and warranties of the seller set forth within the agreement of sale, and the ability of the buyer to perform an inspection of the property, known as due diligence. Consequently, it is important that a buyer understand the negotiation process so they are able to obtain the strongest possible representations from the seller and obtain the broadest ranging property inspection. One way of doing it through commercial or resident note buyers, who would purchase the contract between both parties, allowing the buyer to pay for the property. Companies like Amerinote Xchange offer information on how to go through this process for those who are interested in it. (more…)
Fair Housing Law Traps for the Unwary
Real Estate – Fair Housing Law Traps for the Unwary. All landlords, condominium associations, homeowners’ associations and residential co-ops are subject to the Fair Housing Laws. What does this mean? As a member of the Board of an association, a manager or a landlord, what is my exposure to liability? Can a rule prohibit children in the pool during certain hours? Can a rule prohibit children playing in the hallways? Can occupancy be limited to a certain number of people? What criteria can be used to determine whether or not to accept a new resident? What special treatment must be afforded to someone who is handicapped? These are extremely complex issues which should be dealt with based on the advice of experienced counsel. Do you deal with these issues? By: Ronald Glazer
Condominium Association Pitfalls
Real Estate – Condominium or Homeowners’ Association Operating Pitfalls Must the Association hold formal meetings, adopt formal resolutions and keep formal minutes? Are our rules and regulations enforceable? Do changes in our rules and procedures require formal amendment of our governing documents? Can portions of our governing documents be unenforceable by reason of subsequent changes to the statutory law? These and a multitude of other questions arise daily in the operation of condominium and homeowners’ associations and require the input of an experienced attorney. Are you at risk? By: Ronald Glazer
New Lease for my Business
Real Estate – New lease for my business Why can’t I just sign the landlord’s form lease? Who should make various repairs to the premises? What can happen if the landlord is not satisfied with my repairs? Do I have the right to alter the premises and install fixtures and equipment that I need for the business? Can I be thrown out if the landlord defaults on its mortgage and there is a foreclosure? Is there a way to protect against this? Finding new business premises can be tough but it’s worth it when you find a place that meets all your needs. For example, if you wanted somewhere with 24/7 secure access, fully furnished, with tech support and a flexible lease, then you could look at the Grand Forks offices for lease as they would meet all of your needs. There is no point in settling for less. These and other questions known to an experienced real estate lawyer and should be discussed before signing a lease. If you’d like to have a look further into the different types of leasing arrangements and what might be best suited for you and your business you can start your research right here and familiarize yourself with the three main types of leasing deals. Do you need our assistance? By: Ronald Glazer