Documentary Fee Increase
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) was announced today, January 11, 2019, increasing the maximum documentary fee to $120 for processing titlework manually ($144 if dealers perform on-line registrations with an on-line provider such as Dealertrack.)
The increase is effective immediately. The documentary fee:
- is non-taxable;
- may be excluded from a dealer’s advertised price for the sale of a vehicle;
- is a negotiable item, so the actual dollar amount may not be pre-printed on the buyer’s order;
- is a dealer-imposed charge, not a state-mandated fee; and
- must be disclosed on a sign in the dealership.
The documentary fee will continue to be adjusted annually in accordance with the Federal Consumer Price Index. If a dealership’s documentary fee exceeds the permissible charge, the Attorney General’s Office may consider it to be deceptive, as to what services are being performed, and may find it subject to enforcement action. Please update the information posted in your dealership as needed.
The Assistance and Service Animal Integrity Act, Act 118-2018, takes effect December 23, 2018.
Residents who do not have a legitimate need for an assistance or service animal and fraudulently state that they do, can now be penalized. Residents who fraudulently make such claims not only creates burdens for landlords and homeowner associations, they create burdens for disabled residents who do need assistance or service animals as well.
Community owners and managers are encouraged to revise their current reasonable accommodation request forms to include information regarding Act 118.
Below is a review of Act 118. If you need a sample copy of PMHA’s reasonable accommodation request form go to the member protected website or email our office.
REVIEW OF ACT 118
Relief in Sight for Dealing with Fraudulent Requests for Assistance and Service Animals in PA By: Steven M. Williams, Esquire
On October 24, 2018, Governor Wolf signed into law the Assistance and Service Animal Integrity Act, Act 118-2018 (House Bill 2049), which takes effect on December 23, 2018. The Act is designed to assist landlords and condominium and homeowner associations (associations) who have no pet policies, or policies that limit pets, in evaluating a resident’s claim that he or she requires an assistance or service animal (which by law are not “pets”) as an accommodation to a disability. The Act recognizes the struggles that landlords and associations have faced recently in dealing with fraudulent requests by residents who are not disabled but simply want to avoid having to comply with pet rules.
The Act defines an assistance animal as an animal, other than a service animal, that qualifies as a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, or local law, and includes emotional support animals. Under the Act, a service animal is an animal, other than an assistance animal, that qualifies as a service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act or as a guide or support animal under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act or local law.
Importantly, the Act accomplishes three things:
- It confirms that landlords and associations are entitled to ask for written verification of a resident’s disability and disability-related need for an assistance or service animal (unless the disability or need are obvious).
- It requires that the person verifying the disability or disability-related need for the animal must have “direct knowledge of the person’s disability and disability-related need for the assistance animal or service animal.” This requirement should reduce the number of fraudulent internet verification forms that are currently presented to landlords and associations.
- It creates criminal penalties for violations of the Act by residents and their verifiers. Specifically, the Act provides that a person who misrepresents a disability or need for an assistance or service animal commits a misdemeanor of the third degree, which is punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. A verifier who misrepresents an animal as being a service or assistance animal commits a summary offense, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.
When residents who do not have a legitimate need for an assistance or service animal and fraudulently state that they do, it creates burdens for landlords, associations, and disabled residents who do need assistance or service animals. It is hoped that the enactment of Act 118 will limit the number of false requests, allowing landlords and associations to focus on legitimate requests by disabled residents.
We suggest that landlords and associations revise their current reasonable accommodation request forms to include information regarding Act 118.
Steve Williams provides a full range of legal services to help his clients avoid and resolve legal problems and maximize the success of their businesses. He concentrates his practice in the areas of commercial litigation, real estate, landlord and tenant law, condominium and homeowner law, employment law, construction, and business and corporate law.
FHFA Releases 2019 Scorecard for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Common Securitization Solutions
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) today released the 2019 Scorecard outlining specific conservatorship priorities for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), and their joint venture, Common Securitization Solutions, LLC (CSS). The 2019 Scorecard furthers the goals outlined in FHFA’s Strategic Plan for the Conservatorships of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, published in May 2014. These goals include:
- Maintain, in a safe and sound manner, credit availability and foreclosure prevention activities for new and refinanced mortgages to foster liquid, efficient, competitive and resilient national housing finance markets;
- Reduce taxpayer risk through increasing the role of private capital in the mortgage market; and
- Build a new single-family infrastructure for use by the Enterprises and adaptable for use by other participants in the secondary market in the future.
For all Scorecard items, the Enterprises and CSS will be assessed based on the following:
- The extent to which each Enterprise conducts initiatives in a safe and sound manner consistent with FHFA’s expectations for all activities;
- The extent to which the outcomes of each Enterprise’s activities support a competitive and resilient secondary mortgage market to support homeowners and renters;
- The extent to which each Enterprise meets FHFA’s expectations under the Conservatorship Capital Framework (CCF), including FHFA’s expectations on meeting appropriate return on conservatorship capital targets;
- The extent to which each Enterprise conducts initiatives with consideration for diversity and inclusion consistent with FHFA’s expectations for all activities;
- Cooperation and collaboration with FHFA, each other, the industry, and other stakeholders; and
- The quality, thoroughness, creativity, effectiveness, and timeliness of their work products.
Act 81 – Effective Dec 18, 2018 – Manufactured Home Tax Certification Requirements
Effective 12/18/18, Act 81 eliminates the requirement for a tax status certification for mobile/manufactured homes that were NOT previously titled in Pennsylvania. This means in addition to new manufactured homes, manufactured homes that were previously titled in another state (i.e. Ohio, New York, etc.), will no longer be required to obtain a tax status certification for purposes of getting a PA title for the home.
Additionally, note that language was added to Act 81 to assure that delinquent taxes turned over to third party agencies is properly identified on tax status certifications. Going forward, tax status certifications must show the county, municipal and school district real estate taxes due on the home, including any delinquent real estate taxes turned over to a third party for collection.
This change was added due to a large amount of complaints in the SE and NE region of the state where homebuyers were getting delinquent tax notices sent to them after they recently purchased a manufactured home. It seems many school districts in these regions use a third-party agency to collect their delinquent taxes, and this information was not being passed on to the home buyer. As with municipal and county taxes, school taxes stay with the home regardless of who created the delinquency.
Retailers and Community Owners: If you buy or sell preowned homes make sure you have a honest conversation with the seller of the home. If they have delinquent municipal and/or county taxes, it is most likely they have delinquent school taxes as well. Ask the County Tax Claim Bureau if they are collecting delinquent taxes on behalf of the school district. If not, find out the name of the third party collecting the school taxes and make sure all delinquencies are satisfied prior to selling and transferring the title to a new owner.
Community Owners: Make sure you inform your residents that they are responsible to pay all delinquent taxes – municipal, county and school – prior to selling their home. It is important for you to know if there is a third-party collection agency involved in the county where your community is located.
If you have questions, contact PMHA.