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Pennsylvania State Senate
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: May 27, 2016 11:15 AM
From: Senator Scott Wagner
To: All Senate members
Subject: Clarification of Declaration Per Parcel Indexing Fees for Condominiums, Cooperatives & Planned Communities.
 
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to clarify the manner in which a county Recorders of Deeds Office may charge fees for the recording of amendments to declarations of condominiums, cooperatives and planned communities. Current statutory law requires that any amendment to a declaration be recorded in every county where the community association is located. Moreover, the amendment is only required (Title 68 § 5219. (c)) to be indexed in the name of the association in both the grantor and grantee index.

However, many counties have begun to assess indexing fees in a different manner than they have done in the past and are charging fees based upon every unit and unit owner (per parcel) in a condominium, cooperative or planned community. Furthermore, the fees assessed bear no reasonable relationship to the amount of work involved to perform this service. Merely indexing a declaration amendment against each unit does not warrant duplicative fees. In some counties, they have assessed several thousands of dollars in fees for the recording of a simple and short declaration amendment. In certain instances, the amendments were designed to comply with changes in State and Federal law, and these exorbitant fees have had a chilling effect on the recording of such amendments. These duplicate, per parcel indexing fees are becoming increasingly excessive and are statutorily unnecessary because once the declaration amendment is filed against the association’s master parcel, it provides sufficient notice of the recording upon every unit in the condominium, cooperative or planned community.

Examples of these excessive recording fees are becoming ever more prevalent in counties across the Commonwealth. A 560 unit condominium association in Pennsylvania prepared a three page amendment to its Code of Regulations. The cost to the association to record its three page amendment was $5,738.00. In 2016, this same county raised it’s per parcel indexing fee from $10.00 to $15.00. Under the 2016 recording fee structure, that condominium association would pay a recording fee of at least $8,400.

In another county, a planned community with 849 units filed a 6 page amendment to its declaration. The recording fee included a $57 minimum charge for 4 pages, and then $2 for each additional page, totaling $61 for the base fee. This county now requires that the amendment be recorded against each parcel number, at a fee of $15 per parcel, adding an extra $12,735. The county also requires the association to pay $2 for each page to which parcel number stickers are affixed (at 9 stickers per page), thereby costing the association another $190 for the 95 pages of stickers and making the total recording fee on a 6 page amendment $12,986.00.

This is a practice that needs to be stopped, and this bill will do exactly that. This is a bi-partisan issue, as Representative Caltagirone has introduced similar legislation in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (House Bill 1101). This legislation enacts good government policy. Assessing confiscatory fees is a practice that should be discourage at any level of government, whether state, county or local.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this bi-partisan legislation.

Thank You.


Introduced as SB1282