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Policy Statements

Click any of the topics below to view our policy statements:

Assessments

Private Property Rights

Rental Property Inspections

Realty Transfer Tax

Sign Ordinances

Occupancy Ordinances

 

 


RAMP Policy on Reassessment

 

Background

Pennsylvania has no standardized system of assessing property value, thus processes vary widely from county to county. Within each county, assessment values vary from municipality to municipality. The financial burden of completing the current reassessment is approximately $11-12 million, and in 2002 the cost to Allegheny County taxpayers was approximately $30 million. These are high sums that only a handful of other Pennsylvania counties have had to bear.

While Adams, Bedford, Clinton, Luzerne, and Perry Counties have done a countywide reassessment since 2009, the counties surrounding Allegheny County are operating under the following base years:

  • Beaver = 1982
  • Butler = 1969
  • Washington = 1985* (but under court order to undergo a reassessment)
  • Westmoreland = 1972

Position

RAMP supports revenue-neutral reassessments, and the fair, equitable, and uniform assessment of property on a statewide basis that is easily understood by the general public. 

If property continues to be taxed in Pennsylvania, state legislators should take steps to consolidate the multitude of general assessment laws. A statewide assessment system, regulated by a uniformity office and with the ability to oversee the process of reassessment and enforce compliance, should be established. Pennsylvania should create a uniform and computerized mass assessment system for counties to utilize, and thereby not incurring dramatic and duplicative costs. Reassessment should occur on an annual basis that is revenue-neutral, allowing for millage increases and decreases in accordance with state law.

Development of funding alternatives for school districts, municipalities, and counties should be established and encouraged in order to reduce property taxes dollar for dollar. Taxing property is regressive and a deterrent for investment and home ownership. School districts and municipalities should include the assessed value of new construction in their millage formula and tax calculations, which would reduce property taxes and encourage development overall.

RAMP Supports the following

  • Consolidation of assessment laws into a single statute while allowing for flexibility between the county classes.
  • A fair and equitable assessment system that is easily understood by the general public.
  • An assessment system regulated by the state through a uniformity office with the authority to oversee and enforce compliance.
  • An assessment system utilizing the 100% pre-determined ratio. 
  • Adoption of a uniform and computerized mass assessment system.
  • An annual assessment system that is initially revenue neutral, yet allows for tax increases and decreases.
  • A standard of training and continuing education to be instituted for assessors, appeals board members, auxiliary boards and any other individual that deals with assessment.
  • A standardized appeals process that is fair and equitable. 
  • The development of a funding mechanism, implemented and maintained by the state, whereby stakeholders (school districts, counties and municipalities) participate in the cost of reassessment in a proportionate manner.
*Passed by the RAMP Board of Directors on 01/19/12

 


PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS

 

Background

The right to private property is one of the most important and inherent rights of citizens.  As an organization representing REALTORS®, RAMP believes that individuals have the right to acquire and own property without government infringement. Though the United States Constitution does permit the government to acquire private property for “public use,” the government taking of private property must be carefully examined to ensure that the government is not overly encroaching on citizens’ rights.

Position

RAMP adamantly supports an individual’s right to ownership of real property. RAMP will oppose any governmental action to weaken this right. RAMP recognizes that governments have responsibilities to the public which may necessitate the need for land for “public use”. However, RAMP will work to ensure that the government’s right detailed under the “Takings Clause” of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution is not abused. 

 

Approved by the Government Affairs Committee: January 16, 2009

Approved by the Board of Directors: February 12, 2009

 

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RENTAL PROPERTY INSPECTIONS

 

Background

Over the past few years, many municipalities have considered and/or adopted rental property inspection programs. While the intent of these local ordinances is to ensure the safety of residents within the municipality, inspection ordinances place an undue burden on rental property owners, and therefore the renters themselves.  REALTORS® understand that buyers evaluate properties on multiple levels. These  may be attracted to investing in properties in other municipalities without such ordinances because of the additional time and monetary burden of this program, thus inspection programs will make rental properties unattractive to potential buyers and investors.  Furthermore, mandating rental property inspections is an excessive infringement on the private property rights of a single class of property owners. Many municipalities already have enacted comprehensive codes. Townships and boroughs should work to enforce these existing codes on all properties to ensure that all residents, not just renters, live in safe and healthy conditions.

 

Position

RAMP supports working with local municipalities to draft ordinances to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all residents and property owners.  RAMP believes that municipalities can enact legislation to ensure resident safety while not placing an undue burden on a select portion of the population, such as rental property owners and renters. 

Approved by the Government Affairs Committee: January 16, 2009

Approved by the Board of Directors: February 12, 2009 

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REALTY TRANSFER TAX

 

Background

The realty transfer tax (RTT) is a tax assessed on the value of any property at the time when the property exchanges hands. The revenue generated from this tax is divided between the state, local municipality and local school district.  There are two primary reasons why the RTT is not a good funding source for these government entities: 1) it is unstable because it is only imposed when property is sold, and 2) it is a major burden to buyers and sellers of all types of real property, particularly at the time of closing. 

 

Position

RAMP adamantly opposes realty transfer taxes either being raised or imposed, because it has negative impact on housing costs and the industry as a whole. 

 

Approved by the Government Affairs Committee: January 16, 2009

Approved by the Board of Directors: February 12, 2009 

 

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SIGN ORDINANCES

Background

Advertising the sale of property is essential to the livelihood of the real estate industry.  In recent years more and more municipalities have incorporated a sign policy into their comprehensive land use ordinances. Usually, sign policies include exemptions for certain signs, including real estate signs. Nevertheless, the municipality could amend its policy in the future to place more restrictions on real estate signs.

Position

RAMP opposes any county or municipal ordinance that would restrict or hinder REALTORS® from placing signs on a “for sale” property or from placing directional signs to navigate potential buyers to a “for sale” property. 

Approved by the Government Affairs Committee: January 16, 2009

Approved by the Board of Directors: February 12, 2009 

 

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OCCUPANCY ORDINANCES 

Background

RAMP supports the development and enforcement of reasonable use and occupancy criteria for all types of real property. We believe that occupancy criteria should be standardized, limited to true health and safety issues, and foster rather than inhibit the successful exchange of real property between a buyer and seller.  RAMP opposes use and occupancy ordinances which require the correction of code violations as a condition of issuing a use and occupancy certificate.  RAMP believes preventing the sale or transfer of ownership because use and occupancy violations were not corrected prior to the sale or transfer of ownership violates P.L. 724-99 (Pennsylvania Municipal Code and Ordinance Compliance Act), section 3, subsection (e), which states in relevant part:

...a municipality shall not refuse to issue a use and occupancy certificate or similar permit on the basis of a substantial violation or require the correction of a substantial violation as a condition to issuing a use and occupancy certificate or similar permit, unless the substantial violation renders the property unfit for habitation.

Approved by the Government Affairs Committee: January 16, 2009

Approved by the Board of Directors: February 12, 2009

 

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1427 West Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15226-1101

Phone: (412) 563-5200
Fax: (412) 563-0255

     
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