Community Associations

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled this month that a man from Pittsburgh is not entitled to recover attorneys’ fees and court costs from litigation he won against his homeowners association. Matthew Serota filed suit against the London-Towne Homeowners Association in 2015 after the association amended its Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (the “Declaration”) to allow only one vote per owner rather than one vote per home.

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Hoarding is a psychological condition where: 1) individuals have difficulty getting rid of possessions that are no longer useful; and 2) efforts to discard these possessions and not acquire new items cause distress. Television shows such as Hoarding: Buried Alive and Hoarders display in alarming detail the negative emotional and physical impact of this condition upon the individual with the hoarding disorder as well as his or her family and neighbors.

The negative consequences of hoarding in a community association — especially a high-rise condominium — are very serious. Hoarding behavior can easily lead to unsanitary and unsafe conditions that extend far outside the unit where the hoarding condition has manifested. For example, collections of half empty food containers strewn about a unit can quickly escalate into a pest infestation and breeding ground for mold and other unwelcome guests. Piles of newspapers and other combustible materials in close proximity to heat sources become fire risks. The cumulative weight of hoarded items can even lead to structural problems. Doorways and hallways overflowing and otherwise barricaded by mounds of stuff can hamper the efforts of emergency personnel and management.

A community association that chooses to ignore a hoarding situation could be found liable for failing to take action if the hoarding situation leads to injury to person or property.
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The deadline to comply with the new inspection requirements mandated by the recent amendment to the Philadelphia fire code is fast approaching.

In the wake of a fire escape collapse in Center City that caused one death and two very serious injuries, the City of Philadelphia reviewed whether to mandate the inspection of fire escapes. Ultimately, the City of Philadelphia enacted a bill that amended Section F-1011.1 of the Philadelphia Fire Code. This amendment requires building owners to conduct very specific inspections of their building’s fire escapes and fire escape balconies. A report of the inspection must be filed with the Department of Licenses and Inspections (“L&I”).


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An entire textbook and law school class could be devoted to the topic of handgun regulation. This article will focus on two recent United States Supreme Court (“Court”) decisions, briefly discuss some of the ways in which the Court’s decisions could apply to community associations, and identify practical issues that a community association should consider before embarking on any attempt to restrict handguns in its community. Any association interested in regulating firearms should consult experienced association counsel before embarking on such a task.

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As someone who manages risk for a living and can find potential liability in even the most mundane and (seemingly) harmless activities, I don’t get invited to many parties. Statements such as “Are you crazy!?! Those kids shouldn’t be running with an open container of Play-Doh” and “You do realize that mistletoe is poisonous” tend not to ingratiate me with the host and guests.

You can imagine my horror when a unit owner informs me that he doesn’t have his own property insurance. My horror increases when the unit owner informs me that the reason he doesn’t have insurance is his belief that he is covered by the condominium association’s insurance. For the record, your association’s property insurance does not adequately protect you. Add “Call Insurance Agent/Broker to Review Coverage” to your New Year’s Resolutions.


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Spoiler alert! The zombie apocalypse in this article was not caused by a top secret government experiment, well-intentioned vaccination protocol, or ancient (and very cold) magic. The zombies discussed in this article were created by men and women garbed in Brooks Brothers (ok, probably Joseph A. Banks) and Anne Taylor. The zombies in question were created by stalled and abandoned foreclosure actions as well as a bank’s unwillingness to initiate foreclosure. Like their zombie relatives, zombie mortgages cause serious problems to the living mortgages and communities within their reach. Instead of eating brains like some of their zombie forbears, zombie mortgages eat the revenue stream flowing to community associations.

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During the transition process from declarant to homeowner control of an association, one common area of dispute is the condition of the sidewalks. The new sidewalk surfaces may be scaling, cracking, spalling, discolored, holding water, or otherwise falling apart. The association attributes the condition of the sidewalks to defective construction and requests the declarant to repair or replace the crumbling sidewalks. The declarant blames the condition on the association’s use of de-icing chemicals (i.e. salt) and refuses to repair the sidewalks. This scenario is played out, time and again, throughout the Northeast.
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Under Pennsylvania statute, when real estate subject to homeowner’s association assessments or condominium association assessments is sold at sheriff’s sale, the homeowner’s association or condominium association is entitled to recover delinquent assessments/charges accruing in the six (6) months prior to the sheriff’s sale. All other assessments/charges accruing prior to the sheriff’s sale are ordinarily divested

Stark & Stark’s Community Associations Group has teamed up with Jennifer Brick of Jennifer Brick Consulting, LLC to help further develop business leads, market the group’s services to community association property managers and meet industry decision makers throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

Prior to founding J Brick Consulting, LLC, Jennifer Brick served for 14

A recent case decided by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals has sent shockwaves through the Mortgage Lending Industry and given hope to Condominium Associations and Homeowners Associations at the same time. The issue in Chase Plaza Condominium Association, Inc. v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., concerned the statutory “super-priority” lien established in