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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: August 20, 2013 10:58 AM
From: Representative Kevin J. Schreiber
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation Regarding Municipal Fire Escrow Accounts
In the near future, I plan on introducing legislation that would amend Act 284 of 1921 by increasing the aggregate amount of money placed in municipal fire escrow accounts from $2,000 to $4,000 for every $15,000 received in insurance claims by a private property owner after a fire damages their property.

Currently, the aggregate amount is placed into a municipal escrow account for the purpose of removing, repairing, or securing a structure damaged by fire if abandoned or if the owner does not take the actions needed to return the structure to code compliance. This legislation would not only increase the amount of money held in escrow, but would also provide that the property must be returned to code or removed within one year of the property owner receiving an insurance claim. After one year, all expenses incurred by the municipality to remove, repair, or secure the structure would be paid from the funds held in escrow.

The abandonment of properties damaged by fire increase urban blight and put significant financial pressure on local governments throughout Pennsylvania. Although Pennsylvania law currently provides for municipal fire escrow accounts, the amount withheld is simply not enough to secure or stabilize a property if the owner opts not to make the necessary repairs. Over the past few decades, construction costs associated with the removal of a building or the cleanup of a site have increased dramatically, placing added financial burdens on already struggling municipalities during these hard economic times.

If you would like to co-sponsor this measure, please contact Lou Takacs at 787-7514 or LTakacs@pahouse.net.

Introduced as HB1833