One of the topics generating a great deal of attention in zoning relates to people leasing their residential homes via Airbnb.

This issue came up in Reihner v. City of Scranton Zoning Hearing Board No. 256 C.D. 2017 (PA Commw. Ct. Dec. 8, 2017). The owners of a single family residential dwelling rented the three bedrooms on the second floor of their house via the Airbnb website.

The City filed a notice of violation alleging that the use was a “Bed and Breakfast” which was not allowed in the property’s zoning district.

Scranton’s ordinance defined a “Bed and Breakfast use” as follows:

“The use of a single family residential dwelling and/or accessory structure which includes the rental of overnight sleeping accommodations and bathroom access…and which does not provide any cooking facilities or provision of meals for guests other than breakfast…”


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A recent Commonwealth Court case involving a pair of residential properties has aptly demonstrated that not every residential property in Philadelphia can be automatically utilized for student housing. This case in question is Schwartz v. Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment, 2015 Pa Commw. Lexis 413 (2015).

In Schwartz, two properties were zoned for single family and two family residential use, and located near Drexel University’s campus in Powelton Village. The properties were unequivocally zoned and used for residential purposes, and they were currently being leased to Drexel students, with each property rooming at least 4 students. For the record, the Philadelphia Zoning Code defines a family as “a person living independently or group of persons living as a single household unit using housekeeping facilities in common, but not to include more than three persons unrelated by blood, marriage or adoption.”


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At times, when a lender gives a loan secured by a mortgage on real estate, something happens in the loan origination or closing processes (whether through mistake, inadvertence, or even fraud), which results in the mortgage being defective, and therefore not a lien on the real estate. Items such as missing signatories to the mortgage

Metro Bank v. Board of Commissioners of Manheim Township (Pa. Commonwealth Court 2015) dealt with the appropriate calculation for a transportation impact fee. Metro Bank was approved to build a bank in Manheim Township, and was required to pay an estimated transportation impact fee prior to the start of construction. This dispute is due to

The unreported case of Jenkins v. City of Philadelphia (1470 C.D 2014) should serve as a reminder to all land use attorneys that they must always adequately satisfy all of the applicable proofs when presenting a zoning case. In this instance, the Applicant needed use and dimensional variances in order to utilize a building for

In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, one of the pieces of legislation that was intended to be considered “Main Street”-friendly, which is another way of referring to legislation that is supportive of locally owned small businesses and residences, was the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (“PTFA”).  In short, this statute provided protection for

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A lot of press has already been devoted to potential opportunities for the owners of residential properties in the Philadelphia area as a result of to the Pope’s visit in late September 2015. Considering the projected amount of available hotel/motel accommodations–approximately 30,000 units–pales in comparison to the expected 2 million-plus visitors, homeowners have been encouraged to become “short term landlords” and rent all or part of their properties to individuals visiting Philadelphia to see the Pontiff.

With that said, there has been little coverage of the potential effect that all of these visitors will have on commercial/retail property owners…in particular, those with large public parking areas, such as shopping centers that lie right outside the city center. Just recently, Mayor Nutter’s office announced a “traffic box” with boundaries from 38th Street to the west, South Street to the south, the Delaware River to the east and Girard to Ridge to Spring Garden to the north.

Further, regardless of whether the visitors are getting around Philly by foot, car or mass transit, they will need somewhere to stay, as well as eat and shop. This means that hotel accommodations, restaurant reservations and general retail traffic will surely increase. Given these opportunities to service the 2 million-plus coming to see the Pontiff, owners of any commercial/retail properties and parking lots should keep the following in mind to effectively manage the masses:


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Prior to 2008, when the Great Recession and its aftereffects brought about a sea of changes in the mortgage lending arena, it was not an uncommon scenario, post-closing on a sale or refinance of real estate, to see a mortgage signed by only one of multiple owners of the real estate. In most of these instances, it was one spouse signing the mortgage and the real estate titled in both spouses’ names, but the spousal scenario was not the only one. Unmarried co-owners and other family members might be on title, but missing from the mortgage encumbering such title.
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Suppose you have sold real estate to someone else and take a mortgage back from the buyer to secure payment of the sale price. Suppose, again, that you find out that there’s something wrong regarding that mortgage. Maybe the buyer claims he didn’t sign it. Maybe it describes the real estate incorrectly. Maybe it gets