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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: March 18, 2013 04:04 PM
From: Representative Bernie O'Neill
To: All House members
Subject: Homewoners Associations and Transparency
 
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation amending the Uniform Planned Community Act, the Uniform Condominium Act, and the Real Estate Cooperative Act in order to promote openness and accountability in community management, and to encourage the fair and efficient resolution of disputes when they arise.

An estimated 2.8 million Pennsylvanians live in one of the more than 14,500 condominiums, cooperatives or planned communities throughout the state. While there are differences between the ownership structures and rules, they are all governed by a homeowners association (HOA) through an elected board, which adopts and enforces bylaws, collects fees, levies common assessments and generally manages the business of the community. The particulars in each community are governed by bylaws which are promulgated and adopted within the mandatory parameters of the applicable laws, which my legislation seeks to amend.

Although HOAs are private organizations, they exercise significant control over the property and lives of residents, similar to a form of local government. Unfortunately, I have had numerous complaints from constituents who have been frustrated in their efforts to take part in decision making processes or otherwise exercise their rights in the community. My legislation mandates, in the case of new communities, and encourages, in the case of existing communities, the adoption of bylaws providing for:

  • Mediation and arbitration for the resolution of internal disputes;
  • Open meetings and limited “closed door” meetings;
  • Broader access to the records of the community; and
  • Limitations on proxy voting.

It is important to note that this legislation is not retroactive and does not alter rights and obligations in existing communities. If, however, a community does not voluntarily adopt bylaws in conformity with these “good government” measures, its members will be able to address violations of the law (and bylaws) through the procedural remedies provided in the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

The proposed changes are modest, but necessary, and will positively impact the lives of thousands of Pennsylvanians from nearly every part of the state. If you have any questions on this legislation, please contact Connie McClure in my Harrisburg office at 717-705-7170 or by e-mailing cmcclure@pahousegop.com.



Introduced as HB1254