Pennsylvania Legislature Adopts Changes to Uniform Condominium, Cooperative and Planned Community Acts
by Stefan Richter, Esq. & Hal Barrow, Esq.
On November 3, 2022, Governor Wolf signed HB1795 into law, to become effective in May 2023. This legislation is intended to enhance the mechanisms and integrity for governance of condominium and community associations throughout the Commonwealth. HB1795 authorizes, even for unincorporated associations, the use of electronic means for casting votes, giving notice, and attending meetings. It also prescribes procedures for removing executive board members and amending bylaws. In addition, the bill mandates election oversight by an “independent reviewer” in large condominiums and master associations. A full version of the bill can be found online and we offer the following highlights.
• HB1795 codifies the requirement that “in order to be eligible to vote in the election, a unit owner shall be in good standing with the association”.
• For large condominiums and master associations (more than 500 units), HB1795 requires election votes to be submitted to an “Independent Reviewer”. An independent reviewer 1) cannot be a unit owner in the association, 2) cannot be an immediate family member of a unit owner, 3) cannot have financial interests shared with the declarant, a unit owner of the association or the association manager, and 4) if compensated for acting as such, has disclosed the terms of such compensation to the unit owners. Alternatively, an electronic “Vote Management System” (a third-party vendor who operates a digital or subscription service that securely manages the conduct of elections and voting procedures) also qualifies to act as Independent Reviewer.
• For condominium associations, HB1795 codifies the method for removing members of the Executive Board (by a 2/3 vote of those voting at a meeting at which a quorum is present). This provision is already contained in Section 5303 of the Uniform Planned Community Act; HB1795 thus adds consistency.
• HB1795 requires that Bylaws contain a provision governing removal of members of the Executive Board.
• For residential associations, Bylaws must allow amendments by a vote of 51% of the unit owners; a lesser voting burden may apply for non-residential associations.
• Bylaw amendments may only be adopted at a meeting of which at least 14 days prior written notice is given.
• Virtual meetings are now authorized for all condominium and community associations, even if not expressed in the existing bylaws.
• Electronic voting is now authorized, including when conducted using a Vote Management System.
• Methods of vote delivery are expanded to provide for absentee ballots and electronic voting.
• Unit Owners can now opt in to receiving all notices by electronic means.
• In contested elections, a candidates’ forum must be conducted at least 7 days before an election, if requested by any of the candidates.
• The need for continual postponements of election meetings is now reduced by statute.
• In uncontested elections, candidates may now be elected by acclamation.
In addition to several new administrative and procedural requirements, HB1795 incorporates many welcome updates to the Uniform Condominium, Cooperative and Planned Community Acts. We recommend that association boards review HB1795 to determine applicability, and that they adopt resolutions to implement compliant procedures.
This article is not legal advice and is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.