In Pennsylvania, mortgages on real estate aren’t always held by banks or mortgage companies. Individuals who sell real estate sometimes “take back paper” from their buyers to, in effect, finance the purchase price.
If one is above a certain age, one may remember a “Saturday Night Live” sketch called “The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave”, about a comically boring and obtuse houseguest who, ignoring all hints from the homeowners, wouldn’t budge.
The old Woody Guthrie song emphatically proclaiming “this land is your land, this land is my land” could well have its roots in the concept of a prescriptive easement in Pennsylvania. As recently explained in a Bucks County Court of Common Pleas case, Slice & Hook Enterprise v. McGonigal, 87 Bucks Co. L. Rep. 321, 329 (2014), a prescriptive easement exists when one establishes a right to use another’s land for some purpose, through “open, notorious, continuous, uninterrupted, adverse and hostile use” (although not inconsistent with the landowner’s use of the property), for twenty-one (21) years.
Often, when purchasing or selling real estate in Pennsylvania, an examination of the title to such real estate discloses the presence of old mortgages or judgments (frequently in the name of a previous owner(s)).
In the case of B.N. Excavating v. PBC Hollow-A, the Pennsylvania Superior Court held that it is not always necessary to show that a structure has been erected in order for a mechanics lien to be filed in Pennsylvania. Rather, the majority of the Court ruled that where land excavation is an integral part of the overall construction plan for a building, a mechanics lien could possibly be filed for that work, even where no structure has been built. The en banc panel noted that the seminal case of Sampson-Miller Associated Companies v. Landmark Realty Co. does not stand for the proposition that a mechanics lien can never be filed if a structure has not been erected.
In the case of In Re Appeal of Chester County Outdoor, LLC, the applicant, Chester County Outdoor LLC (“CCO”), desired to erect a billboard on certain property in Penn Township. CCO filed a challenge to the validity of Penn Township’s Zoning Ordinance pursuant to Section 916.1 of the Municipalities Planning Code, alleging that that Section 1800G of the Ordinance excluded billboards. Section 1800G stated that no sign could be erected in the Township except one for a business or merchandise for sale on the same premises as the billboard.
The Pennsylvania Senate approved legislation on Tuesday, May 24, 2011 that would require contractors and subcontractors to verify legal employment status for all employees working on public building projects. Senate Bill 637, which passed 47-7, makes use of the federal E-Verify system, operated by the Department of Homeland Security, mandatory to confirm that all employees are eligible to work in the U.S.
In Pennsylvania, “The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951” (“The Act”) governs all residential leases entered in Pennsylvania. The Act provides certain terms in the relationship between a landlord and tenant that cannot be waived by the tenant, even where the written lease has provisions contrary to the Act.
There are three principal types of tenancies related to the ownership of real estate. Perhaps the most popular, and most familiar, is the joint tenancy. If two persons own a property as joint tenants, upon one person’s death, the other person automatically owns all of the interest in the property. There is no limit on the number of persons that can hold property as joint tenants. If a husband and wife own a property together and add their child to the deed, each will own a one-third interest in the property.
Contractors must take notice of the new requirements regarding Home Improvement Contracts taking effect on July 1, 2009, which will most likely require significant changes, if not wholesale re-drafting of most Contractors’ written form of Contract. Because the Act not only declares existing common practices “Prohibited Acts” and others criminal “Home Improvement Fraud,” a Contractor’s existing form Contract may guide an unwary or uninformed Contractor into a transaction voidable by the Owner at will, or a transaction that can form the basis of civil Consumer Protection liability, and even a third degree felony.