Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

1273 Posts and Counting

Washington County Pennsylvania Reassessment Appeals Begin

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| July 20, 2016 | © 2016

No. 1,273

Washington CoIf you are a landowner in Washington County, you probably received your notice of assessment.  You have 40 days to file an appeal.

We went through this process in Allegheny County twice in the last decade.  The experience of Allegheny County should be helpful, but Washington County has some unique problems.  The Marcellus phenomenon made some farm land extraordinarily valuable.  Other properties are in areas that have seen growth and development.  Others haven’t.

The taxing bodies will undoubtedly be suggesting some of these high growth properties as comparable for other properties which do not have the same potential.  This means that property owners should be represented by legal counsel that knows real estate values and understands how the system works.  Chances are that the outcome of appeals in 2016 will influence tax assessments for many years to come.

CLT

The Act 91 Notice for Delinquent Mortgages Facing Foreclosure has Changed

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| July 20, 2016 | © 2016

No. 1,272

PHFAThe form of the Act 91 Notice to delinquent homeowners facing mortgage foreclosure has changed.  The entire second page is a Spanish translation of page 1.  Aside from that, the document is more succinct.  However, a great deal of attention is paid to font size.

Here is the new form of the Notice.  It is to be used after 4/30/16.

Here is the revised Statement of Policy as Published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

CLT

Pokemon Go To Church

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| July 20, 2016 | © 2016

No. 1,271

IMG_0758

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Electronic Trespass

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| July 17, 2016 | © 2016

No. 1,270

Image: Forbes

Image: Forbes

If you would like to read a legal analysis concerning whether the producers of Pokemon Go are guilty of trespass to land or perhaps creating an attractive nuisance, click on this link to a blog called Associate’s Mind.

It sounds preposterous, the idea that imaginary Pokemon animals are trespassing on land.  After all, they are not really there, they live in a virtual reality world that only appears on your cell phone when you run the app.  And who would care if a snarlax  (or whatever it is called) wanders onto private property?

Well, consider this.  The Washington Post reports that the National Holocaust Museum is requesting that Pokemon Go players respect the solemnity of this national monument by refraining from hunting Pokemon animals in the Museum. It is also requesting that the PokeStop situate on its grounds be removed.

Thats a reasonable request.  And its not too hard to think of other places where the owners would have a legitimate beef. But the Holocaust Museum, like any similar institution, has the right to establish reasonable rules of conduct while on their premises.  The simple solution is to prohibit electronic devices from being used in certain areas — as the Allegheny County Court House has done, albeit with less than total effect.

CLT

Judges and Presidential Politics

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| July 14, 2016 | © 2016

Image: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pa. Justice Michael A. Musmanno  campaigned for John F. Kennedy.        Image: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

 

No. 1,269

Summary: Justice Ginsburg’s comments about Trump are unusual but not unique.

About a year ago, Judge Richard Kopf discontinued his blog “Hercules and the Umpire” after running a post stating that Ted Cruz was not qualified to be President.  Although Kopf denied that there was a relationship between the post and the curtailment of the blog, he admitted that the public statement was a mistake.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s remarks on the presidential race brought a flood of criticism, but will probably not bring any lasting consequences.  Political comments on candidates are not without precedent and political participation by judges was once common.  Justice Michael Musmanno  actively campaigned for John F. Kennedy in 1960, even making stump speeches.  He communicated with campaign manager Robert F. Kennedy, suggesting that the campaign hold a Columbus Day event. In appreciation for these efforts, Kennedy interviewed Musmanno as a potential Supreme Court nominee and invited him to a Columbus Day ceremony in the Rose Garden.  Musmanno ran for the Senate (he said that Kennedy suggested it) while still a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Of course, rules have changed and undoubtedly for the better.

CLT

 

All the Comforts of Home.

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| July 3, 2016 | © 2016

No. 1,268

Dog haven

Common Level Ratio Rises in Allegheny County

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| June 30, 2016 | © 2016

No. 1,267

The Common Level Ratio, established by the State Board of Equalization, increased from 1.09 to 1.15, effective tomorrow, July 1, 2016.

This means that if a property is assessed at $100,000 and is transferred for lees-than-arms-length consideration, the realty transfer tax was formerly paid on $100,000 x 1.09 or $109,000.  Now it is $100,000 x 1.15 or $115,000.

The purpose of this procedure is to bring such transactions as close as possible to fair market value when computing transfer tax.

CLT

On Ramp to Heaven

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| June 30, 2016 | © 2016

No. 1,266

IMG_0724 5.14.19 PM

Brexit: Change is Coming!

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| June 30, 2016 | © 2016

No. 1,265

The jump occurred today. But,as everybody knows, iBrexitts all in the landing.

On this historic day, several legal publications are predicting a Brexit  bonanza for lawyers. Well, of course!

Change and uncertainty al- ways create a demand for lawyers. Meanwhile, other publications predict massive layoffs in Britain.

CLT

 

Is a Landlord Required to Provide a Smoke Alarm Under Doctrine of Implied Warranty of Habitability?

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| June 23, 2016 | © 2016

No. 1,264

ECHEVERRIA v. HOLLEY, 2016 PA Super. 119 (filed June 9, 2016).

Summary:  Failure of Landlord to provide a working fire detector may support either a contract claim under doctrine of warranty of habitability or a tort claim though negligence.

Image: cartoon stock

Image: cartoon stock

A fire at a two-unit residential property claim the lives of three individuals.

In reviewing the order below granting summary judge on both tort and contract claims, the Superior Court stated: “In Pennsylvania, it is well settled that landlords owe a duty to protect tenants from injury or loss arising out of a negligent failure to maintain a rental property in a safe condition. Feld v. Merriam, 485 A.2d 742, 745 (Pa. 1984). A tenant seeking to recover damages stemming from the condition of a rental party may pursue claims sounding in ordinary negligence or a breach of the implied warranty of habitability “

“Appellants argue in their first issue that the trial court erred in sustaining preliminary objections to their common law claim alleging that defendants negligently failed to install smoke detectors at the property. Specifically, Appellants contend that the trial court erroneously held that a Pennsylvania landlord’s duty to protect tenants from dangerous conditions did not extend to the installation of smoke detectors. We agree.”

 “In Pennsylvania, it is well settled that landlords owe a duty to protect tenants from injury or loss arising out of a negligent failure to maintain a rental property in a safe condition. Feld v. Merriam, 485 A.2d 742, 745 (Pa. 1984). A tenant seeking to recover damages stemming from the condition of a rental party may pursue claims sounding in ordinary negligence or a breach of the implied warranty of habitability. We discuss both of these theories below.”

The implied warranty of habitability, the Court stated, is reflected in the Restatement of Property (Second) § 17.6 comment a., b., ac (1977), which represents the modern weight of authority.

“Landlord Under Legal Duty to Repair Dangerous Condition

A landlord is subject to liability for physical harm caused to the tenant or his subtenant by a dangerous condition existing before or arising after the tenant has taken possession, if he has failed to exercise reasonable care to repair the condition and the existence of the condition is in violation of

(1) an implied warranty of habitability;

or

(2) a duty created by statute or administrative regulation”

A warranty of habitability claim is a contract claim, for which contract damages and not tort damages are available.  This includes termination of the obligation to pay rent and contract termination when the premises are surrendered, plus the remedies of repair and deduct and specific performance.  However, the Court went on to say that the complaint may have alleged sufficient facts to hold the defendants liable for tort damages arising from the failure to correct a dangerous condition.

CLT

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Welcome

CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 40 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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