Pennsylvania Enacts Amendments to Uniform Condominium and Planned Community Acts
On October 19, 2018 (effective December 18), Governor Tom Wolf signed in to law House Bill 1499 (now known as Act 84 of 2018). Act 84 clarifies a number of legal and procedural sections of the Pennsylvania Uniform Condominium Act (UCA), Real Estate Cooperative Act (RECA, and Uniform Planned Community Act (UPCA), and includes enhancements to enforcement and regulatory powers of associations.
Significant to boards and management are amendments to Sections 3302(11) of the UCA, 4302(11) of the RECA and 5302(11) of the UPCA, which expressly empower associations (after notice and an opportunity to be heard) “for any period during which assessments are delinquent or violations of the declaration, bylaws and rules and regulations remain uncured, [to] suspend unit owner’s rights, including, without limitation, the right to vote, the right to serve on the board or committees and the right of access to common elements, recreational facilities or amenities.” Although already contained in many modern association documents, Act 84 now provides statutory and legislative support for the power to suspend privileges. Accordingly, for associations where the governing documents are silent on this issue, boards may now withhold membership privileges as part of their enforcement and collections procedures.
Act 84 also governs the transfer of storm water management operation to associations under DEP regulations, election of a unit owner controlled board if a declarant fails to conduct or delays an election, requires a declarant to release any real estate tax liens on prior to conveyance of common facilities, and clarifies the statute of limitations for enforcement of the warranty against structural defects.
In addition to Act 84, on October 24, 2018 (effective December 23), Governor Wolf also signed into law House Bill 2409 (Act 118 of 2018). Act 118 is known as the “Assistance and Service Animal Integrity Act”, intended to prevent fraud and misrepresentation in connection with applications for permission to keep assistance or service animals in housing.
Act 118 expressly empowers associations to require that persons who seek exceptions from animal restrictions (by reason of their disability), to “produce documentation of the disability and disability-related need for the animal only if the disability or disability-related need is not readily apparent”. Such documentation must be: 1) in writing, 2) be reliable and based on direct knowledge of the person’s disability, and 3) must describe the person’s disability-related need for the assistance or service animal. Act 118 therefore shields associations from liability or claims based merely on the request for information. It also immunizes associations for injuries caused by an assistance or service animal. Significantly, Act 118 criminalizes an applicant’s misrepresentation of his/her disability, the submission of false statements (by the applicant and any provider) and the fitting of an “animal that is not an assistance animal or service animal with a harness, collar , vest or sign than the animal is an assistance animal or service animal for use in housing.” Act 118 not only confirms the right of associations to reasonably investigate and evaluate requests for assistance or service animals, it imposes penalties on anyone who submits false documentation or misrepresents their disability.
We recommend that association boards review their policies and procedures to incorporate and take advantage of these changes in the law. For more information concerning Act 84 and Act 118, please contact Stefan Richter, Esquire at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 215.348.1776.