Blogs

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Eminent Domain & Real Estate Valuation

Fox Rothschild has one of the leading eminent domain and real estate litigation practices in the country. Join David Snyder, co-chair of the firm's Condemnation Practice Group, as he provides useful information and commentary regarding developments in the law, updates on projects and helpful tips regarding eminent domain and other real estate litigation related topics. This is an excellent resource for real estate professionals, property owners and condemnors who may be embarking upon a new project.
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Fair Housing Defense

Join Fox Rothschild attorneys Scott Badami and Christian Moffitt as they provide insight and information on and compliance with the Fair Housing Act and its state and local counterparts. The blog provides a forum for issues of interest to apartment owners and management companies as well as professional management employees.
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In the Zone

Success in the real estate industry often hinges on making smart choices – and on being informed. Fox’s In the Zone blog serves as a resource for developers, investors, lenders, design firms, landlords, tenants and more. Focusing on zoning and land use, we report on trends and news in obtaining approvals and permits for new development, project financing, LEED certification and environmental regulation and enforcement.
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Recent Blog Posts

  • Some Further Thoughts on Fair Housing Act Medical Verifications I have had a handful of reasonable accommodation requests come across my desk over the last month with the same issue: when the leasing office gets a medical verification, the health care provider identifies that the resident has a medical or mental condition (which is appropriate), but the verification (typically in a letter) does not assert that the resident is disabled. The distinction is important as only individuals with a recognized disability (as that term is defined under federal law)... More
  • Special Exception The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently confirmed the standards by which an applicant can obtain a special exception to expand a nonconforming use on its property. In Mercy v. Zoning Hearing Board of Cross Roads, an applicant filed an application with the Zoning Hearing Board seeking a special exception to expand an existing nonconforming use to include the storage and temporary parking of RVs on its property.  The Commonwealth Court affirmed the grant of the special exception with the following findings: The... More
  • Concerned About An Emotional Support Animal Medical Verification That Might Have Been Purchased Online? Professional apartment management companies continue to face an ever increasing number of emotional support animal medical verification letters that are purchased over the internet following just a few clicks on a computer and use of a credit card. As leasing offices do our best to ensure the medical verifications are legitimate (and we want to approve assistance animals for those Americans who are truly disabled), I nevertheless wind up defending against any number of housing discrimination complaints asserting that management is... More
  • Property Owners Seek $27M In Illinois Assessment Bias Suit A group of Cook County property owners have filed suit in Illinois federal court alleging that they are owed more than $27 million in property tax refunds due to discriminatory assessments by the County’s Treasurer and Assessor. These property owners claim they paid taxes at significantly higher levels than other taxpayers in the same class. The complaint alleges from 2000 through 2008, assessed valuations of single-family residential, commercial and industrial properties were not made by the assessor at percentages of... More
  • Pennsylvania Passes Law Allowing Limited Broker Price Opinions Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed HB 863, which allows the PA’s real estate brokers, associate brokers and salespeople to provide broker price opinions. The law defines a BPO as “an estimate … that details the probable selling price of a particular parcel of real property and provides a varying level of detail about the property’s condition, market and neighborhood, and information on comparable sales.” Brokers, associate brokers and salespeople must complete at least three hours of continuing education on BPO topics during the... More
  • US House Passes Private Property Rights Protection Act The United States House of Representatives passed the Private Property Rights Protection Act by voice vote. It seeks to prohibit condemnations for economic development or over property that is used for economic development within seven years after that taking. It applies to state and local takings if that governmental entity receives federal economic development funds. It would also prohibit the federal government from exercising its power of eminent domain for economic development. Many states have similar statutes. They were enacted in... More
  • Some Thoughts On Financial Accommodations Designed as Reasonable Accommodations Three properties I represent (two on the west coast and one on the east coast) are currently involved with residents who separately have submitted reasonable accommodation requests to their respective leasing offices.  All good as professional apartment management has the obligation under the law the review, evaluate, and respond to each of them. The three requests came from residents with different claimed disabilities (none of which were obvious or otherwise known), but they have the same request:  that management make a... More
  • California State Agency Settles Marital Status Housing Discrimination Case Earlier this month, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) announced that it settled a housing discrimination action against a property owner brought by a man who claimed he was denied the opportunity to rent a home because he was not legally married to his partner.  The allegations included that the potential resident was offered a lease for a home in San Diego, but upon disclosing that he planned to live with his boyfriend, the potential resident was told that... More
  • Informational Notice Personal Income Tax 2017-01 Are you a tenant who pays rent to a non-resident individual, estate or trust?  If so, beware!  Act 43 of 2017 created a withholding obligation for certain lessees of Pennsylvania real estate to non-residents and also expanded the requirements with respect to when a copy of Federal Form 1099-MISC is required to be filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.  Anyone leasing real estate in Pennsylvania, who makes a lease payment in the course of their trade or business to... More
  • HUD Files FHA Design & Construction Disability Discrimination Charge At the end of last month, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) issued a formal charge of housing discrimination against the developer, owner, construction company, and architect of a multifamily property in New York, asserting that the parties failed to design and construct a condominium development in Queens, NY in compliance with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The FHA, of course, mandates that multifamily housing built after March 1991 contain accessible features for disabled... More
  • HUD Issues Notice Concerning Possible Changes to the Fair Housing Act’s “Disparate Impact” Rule As predicted in this space a couple of months ago, on June 20, 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register entitled “Reconsideration of HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Disparate Impact Standard.” What’s going on here?  Here is a summary, in English (as opposed to legalese): “Disparate impact” involves testing a rule or a policy that looks neutral on its face, but which has a discriminatory impact on... More
  • Ill. Court: Tax Appeal Attorneys Not Engaged in Appraisal Practice The Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois (Chancery Division) ruled that attorneys who referenced comparable property valuations and market values based on an income approach as part of tax appeal proceedings were simply engaged in the traditional practice of law and not in appraisal practice. In Illinois State Bar Association vs. Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, two attorneys were accused by the IDFPR of engaging in unlicensed appraisal practice after they submitted comparable property valuations, income approach information... More
  • Disparate Impact FHA Case Filed Asserting Discrimination in Minority Communities Earlier this week a number of fair housing advocacy groups filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Maryland asserting that a major financial institution and a property management company are violating the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by exposing predominately minority communities to economic harm, increased crime, and a less than optimal quality of life by failing to market and maintain its foreclosed properties in the same condition as the financial institution does in communities with a majority of Caucasian... More
  • House Bill 352 House Bill No. 352 passed the General Assembly and has now been signed by the Governor.  See attachment.  It provides that an individual can obtain title to a property by adverse possession in 10 years instead of the 21 years required by prior law.  The property must be less than one-half acre in size and contain a single-family home.  The claimant must also meet all of the underlining requirements of adverse possession under current Pennsylvania law and the new requirements... More
  • HUD Resolves Disability Discrimination FHA Case for $12,000 Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) announced settlement of a disability discrimination Fair Housing Act (FHA) case from San Francisco, CA.  A family filed a fair housing complaint asserting their apartment community failed to transfer them in violation of the FHA as their infant son had a disability and management was required to transfer them to a non-smoking unit. The infant involved here has a condition that impacts his breathing. The family requested a transfer to a smoke-free... More