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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: May 13, 2022 09:24 AM
From: Representative Christopher M. Rabb and Rep. Donna Bullock, Rep. Joseph C. Hohenstein
To: All House members
Subject: Untangling Real Estate Titles
An unclear or “tangled” title occurs when a property deed bears the name of someone other than the apparent owner or occupant. This most commonly happens when the recorded owner dies and a relative inherits the property but fails to record a new deed. A recent study from the Pew Charitable Trusts identified at least 10,000 tangled titles in Philadelphia alone, which are located disproportionately in lower income neighborhoods and communities of color.
A tangled title makes it difficult, if not impossible, to sell the property, take out a home equity loan, obtain homeowner’s insurance, or participate in local home repair programs. This increases the risk of a property’s deterioration and foreclosure. However, resolving a tangled title can be tedious and expensive. For the median home, the Pew study estimates it costs approximately $9,200.
We will introduce a pair of bills to help residents address and fix tangled titles.
The first bill will establish the Unclear Title Grant Fund and appropriate $50,000,000 to provide grants to a public legal aid entity to cover the administrative, legal, and other costs associated with resolving a tangled title. This program will also advertise that help is out there to solve these complex issues. 
The second bill will waive the probate fee for low-income heirs which is based on the value of the estate, which is no less than $475.
Every year that passes with a deed remaining in the name of the decedent provides an opportunity for those heirs to die, further tangled the title.  A home is often a family’s largest source of accumulated wealth, but tangled titles prevent them from fully tapping into their property’s value.

Please join us in this important effort to strengthen communities by empowering people to clear up tangled titles.

Introduced as HB2744