6 Things You Need to Know about Real Estate and Property Laws of Pennsylvania
Whether you’re buying or selling real estate in Pennsylvania, you should know that there are several working parts to the process. Given the money and time that goes into the deal, many can’t afford to get anything wrong. To help you out, we have compiled a list of things you should know about PA’s real estate and property laws.
1. Disclosure Agreement
The Pennsylvania Real Estate Seller Disclosure Law requires the seller of a residential property to provide a signed and dated copy of the property disclosure to prospective buyers.
As per real estate and property law in Pennsylvania, the seller’s property disclosure statement form will need to be created by the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission. The seller needs to provide information related to the property’s condition to the buyer.
This form touches upon the following areas of concern:
- Faulty electrical, plumbing, and/or other systems on the property
- Appliances or other items in the property that need repairs or replacements
- Working condition of smoke detectors
- Homeowners association fees and deed restrictions
- Other information related to the property like the type of sewage system, age of roof shingles, structural additions or modifications, and so on
An experienced real estate lawyer can help you understand the complexities of these agreements by shedding light on their various aspects.
2. Landlord and Tenant Laws
According to real estate and property law in PA, landlords must not exceed the state-mandated limit for the security deposit. This is two months’ rent for the first year and one month’s rent during subsequent years. The security deposit must be returned within 30 days after the tenant moves out.
In case of any issues, landlords and tenants can always take the legal route. For this reason, leases and rental agreements are regulated by real estate and property laws at the state level.
Specific laws have been put in place to decide the parameters for security deposits and other terms for protecting both parties. These include various terms of occupancy, rent amount, pet restrictions, and permissions for subletting, among others.
In case of any disputes, it’s best to work with a qualified real estate property lawyer to sort the matter out.
3. Adverse Possession
According to this part of Pennsylvania’s real estate and property law, someone possessing and improving an otherwise neglected parcel of real estate may acquire the title to it. However, there are numerous requirements to fulfill.
Adverse possession in PA requires a 21-year period of occupation. This means the possessor must continuously and uninterruptedly use the entire claimed land for 21 years.
In most cases, adverse possession tends to happen when the physical boundaries of a property aren’t clearly defined. The six requirements to fulfill are:
- Actual possession: The possessor must treat the land as if it were their own, as per the rule regarding “consistent with the nature of the property.”
- Use for a continuous period: The land’s possession must be continuous and uninterrupted for 21 years.
- Hostile to the actual owner’s rights: The rights of the landowner and the possessor’s use must be in conflict.
- Open and notorious use: The possessor’s use of the land must be public.
- Exclusive possession: The adverse possessor should exclude others from the property.
- Color of title: In some cases, an adverse possessor must have an invalid title or relevant documents that support their claim for the use of the land.
Don’t hesitate to consult with a proven real estate attorney should you need more information in this regard.
4. Homestead Laws
Homestead laws allow property owners to safeguard their equity in the house by declaring a certain part of their residence as a “homestead.”
Many states that uphold this kind of real estate and property law set restrictions on the homestead’s square footage, market value, and acreage in case of Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Homeowners may be able to hold onto equity, to a certain extent, if it’s higher than the pending balance on the mortgage. Pennsylvania’s limited homestead law allows a $300 exemption for property jointly owned by a married couple.
A knowledgeable real estate lawyer will be well-versed in the various aspects of this law. Feel free to reach out for a consultation.
5. Contract Laws
Binding contracts must be spelled out specifically to be accepted by both parties. Real estate and property law in PA require that there be an offer, an acceptance, something of value being bargained for, and essential terms in the agreement.
The contract should contain important details such as the initial offer, any counteroffers, acceptance of the offer, terms, and conditions of the sale, responsibilities of both parties, and of course, the price. It should also include the earnest money deposit and mention any appliances included in the property’s sale. Furthermore, the deadline for the offer and the potential closing date also need to be indicated.
A contract is considered valid only if the parties signing it meets the legal requirements of the state. In the event of any party bowing out of the agreement, the contract will allow the other party to implement contingencies and conditions before the sale is conducted.
You should speak with a competent real estate property lawyer for any assistance with preparing contracts or understanding stipulations in an existing one.
6. Basic Home Insurance
Real estate and property law in PA guarantee basic fire insurance for homes under the Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) plan. This plan offers insurance to high-risk individuals or people browsing homes in high-risk areas. It is a “shared market plan.”
High-risk homes are those that are located in areas susceptible to natural disasters. They also include residences in neighborhoods with a high crime rate, homes that may need major repairs, and those with multiple previous claims.
Additional requirements may need to be fulfilled to become eligible for the FAIR plan. This may include limiting risks by installing alarm systems and changing your home’s wiring. If you think you fall under the FAIR plan, contact your local real estate attorney to know more about your rights.
Contact a Proven PA Real Estate Property Lawyer Today
A seasoned real estate attorney is your most reliable source of guidance when you want to understand the various real estate and property laws applicable in Pennsylvania.
The real estate property lawyers at MVSK Law are experienced in handling every aspect of residential and commercial real estate agreements. We’re here to make sure you receive and pay for everything fairly when buying or selling real estate.