Flaherty Fardo

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PA General Practice

Pennsylvania Real Estate Law

Flaherty Fardo, LLC are experienced Pennsylvania real estate lawyers. We routinely represent individuals and businesses in a variety of general real estate advice and litigation, including:

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Allegheny County Property Assessment Tax Appeals:

Just when property owners in Allegheny County thought that they understood the local system for assessing properties (the so-called ‘base year’) the PA Supreme Court has ruled that the 2002 Base year is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court agreed with the Honorable R. Stanton Wettick, but they arrived at their conclusion in a different manner. Regardless, it appears that a reassessment is ordered by the high court and will now occur in 2012.

In early 2010, the county intends to send each property owner questions about their property. The county then intends to have an assessor visit each property to verify county data. You are under no legal obligation to answer any questions or allow anyone on your property. These assessors are not your friends. To the contrary, they are gathering data that most often raises your property taxes. If someone is trespassing on your property without your permission, you have every legal right to call the police or call 911.

We will do our best to keep our clients updated of the ever-changing laws and rules of the game, and will continue to fight for reduced assessments in Allegheny County. We have had tremendous success in defending tax appeals filed by the school districts.

The fact is the Allegheny County property tax system is a wreck. Not only are our millage rates too high, but the assessments are all across the board for properties in the same neighborhood. If you bought your house recently, odds are you are paying higher property taxes than your neighbors who have lived there for many years. The school districts continue to appeal almost all recent sales and reap the benefits while increasing their own millage rates. For now, the immediate question focuses on the current properties under appeal. They are still using the base year system at the hearings even though the highest court in Pennsylvania has declared it unconstitutional.

Defending School Property Tax Appeals:

There are 45 school districts in Allegheny County. Every year, any taxing entity (County, School, or Municipality) and all property owners have the right to file new Allegheny County property tax appeals. the deadline for 2010, is March 31, 2010. Normally, the taxing entities (County, School and Local) file tax appeals against property owners if they believe an assessment is too low on a property, and of course property owners most often file property tax appeals if they believe their assessment is too high.

Over 90% of the taxing entity appeals are filed by the school district only. There are 3 reasons why: The school district files the most appeals because they typically have the highest millage rate and therefore the most financial incentive. The municipalities typically do not file appeals because they often have lower millage rates and “piggy back” off of the school districts, Most municipalities realize that they can receive additional taxes without paying any legal fees. (There are some municipalities that do aggressively get involved). The county’s position is supposed to support the 2002 ‘base year’ system, and what the County certified. Unfortunately, the county sometimes supports the school districts. Very rarely if ever, have we witnessed the county strongly oppose a school district. Basically, their friends.

Pennsylvania Landlord / Tenant Law:

FLAHERTY FARDO, LLC have a large client list of both commercial property landlords and residential property landlords. We routinely provide legal advice on a variety of legal topics including breach of contracts, security deposiits, evictions, monetary disputes, collection of rents owed, and reducing their overall property taxes. What makes our firm unique is that we have not only the business and real estate expertise to help our clients, but also the litigation experience to enforce the advice we give. Very few real estate lawyers are also experienced Pennsylvania trial lawyers.

When we give legal advice to commercial and residential clients, our goal is often to avoid lawsuits for the clients if at all possible. There are prelitigation solutions which only experienced negotitaors and trial lawyers are able to provide. If we have to file a lawsuit, our clients are confident that having experienced trial lawyers is a distinct and real advantage. Pennsylvania law concerning Landlord / Tenant rights is governed by the “Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951”. The law was then amended in 1995. This law provides some clarity for the rights of both the Landlord and Tenants when disputes occur.

Understanding Pennsylvania Land Disputes:

Disputes over the boundaries of property are especially common in the Pittsburgh area. Property lines are not always clearly delineated, either because of peculiar history or difficult topography,. Hills and banks erode, and even the best old surveys can become outdated quickly. Many properties were once owned by family members who paid little attention to formal property lines. As a result, many houses, garages, and walkways are built on a neighbors land.

Shared driveways are particularly common in some neighborhoods. Even among the best of neighbors, these features sometimes cause heated disputes. Unclear boundaries can also create problems whenever property owners try to sell their land. We can evaluate all options to resolve your property line dispute – from negotiated easements or purchase agreements to filing suit to quite title. Call Flaherty Fardo for a free consultation at 412.802.6666.