Perhaps consistent with the spirit of giving this time of year, the General Assembly recently provided a gift to homeowner associations (“HOA”) across the Commonwealth by signing Act 84 into law. Act 84, which was enacted and signed into law on October 19, 2018, made some notable changes to the Pennsylvania Uniform Planned Communities Act and the Uniform Condominium Act (“Acts”). Before discussing the details, it is important to note that whether Act 84 will have retroactive effect is unclear; thus, it is possible the changes it brings apply only prospectively.
The key changes made by Act 84 involve (1) additional enforcement options for HOAs against their unit owners (i.e. homeowners) and (2) timing limitations to enforce the warranty against structural defects. This blog post addresses the new enforcement options for HOAs and a later post will discuss the changes involving the warranty against structural defects. Both changes take effect December 18, 2018.
Act 84 broadened the rights available to HOAs when enforcing delinquent assessments or violations of a declaration, bylaws, or rules and regulations by unit owners. Prior to Act 84, enforcement actions authorized by the Acts and related declarations, bylaws, and rules and regulations were generally limited to levying reasonable fines and issuing liens against unit owners. In addition, HOAs could sue offending unit owners to recover unpaid assessments, legal fees and interest on amounts due. HOAs across Pennsylvania were limited in how they could affect change with respect to offending unit owners and those owners’ properties.
Originally sponsored by Representative Mark K. Keller (R-Perry) as HB 1499, Act 84 authorizes HOAs to suspend unit owners’ rights, including the right to vote, the right to serve on the board or committees, and the right to access common elements, recreational facilities or amenities. Thus, HOAs may now affect the daily life of unit owners who are delinquent or out of compliance with HOA bylaws, declarations or rules and regulations. In addition, the new enforcement options might help bring leased properties owned by absentee unit owners into compliance because the HOA may, for example, deny access by tenants to pools and other amenities.
Act 84 does not limit the enforcement methods available to HOAs to only these measures. Moreover, because the aforementioned enforcement methods are now stated explicitly in the Acts, in many instances HOAs will be able to utilize the new enforcement methods even if they are not included in the relevant HOA’s declaration, bylaws, or rules and regulations. Indeed, many HOAs will have more flexibility and creativity in their enforcement methods. Furthermore, unit owners (and tenants) across the Commonwealth must now be aware that they may face a significantly broader range of repercussions for late payment of assessments or for violating their community’s declaration, bylaws, or rules and regulations. Thus, not only did Act 84 usher in changes that will certainly be well received by HOAs this holiday season, it also brought forth bad news for unit owners who find themselves on an HOA’s naughty list.
Please feel free to contact any member of the McNees Wallace & Nurick Land Use Group for assistance with any land use or development issues and/or if you have any questions regarding this post.