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James S. Tupitza
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James Tupitza’s Answers

2,552 total


  • How much power do Home Owners Associations have?

    Do I legally have to pay HOA fees if I do not receive anything in return from them? and can they put a lien on my property for unpaid dues?

    James’s Answer

    The short answer is YES and YES. IF you bought in a community with a HOA Declaration, the issue is not negotiable.

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  • My question is this. I am a member of the HOA Board that established Bylaws in the 70's.

    There is no indication these Bylaws were filed at the District Court level but were filed with the state of PA. Where is the requirement that these Bylaws must be filed at the District Court level in order to be enforced. Also who is required to...

    James’s Answer

    Let me explain the three basic HomeOwners' Association documents:

    1) The Declaration, aka the Declaration of Covenants, Easements and Restrictions. This document is recorded in the Office of the Recorder of deeds. It does many things including the following: Establishes the HOA as the entity in charge of the planned community, establishes that the assessment creates a lien on all property, sets forth limitations on the use of individual properties, designates open space.
    2) The ByLaws. This is a corporate document that is designed to control the operation of the Home Owners' Association as a corporation. This document designates officers of the corporation, controls how meetings are conducted, describes a quorum.
    3) The Rules and Regulations. This document sets rules for the use of the COMMON AREA.

    Many people mix the documents together. Each has a specific purpose and nothing good can come from trying to amend one of them to do a job it is not supposed to do.

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  • How to determine buy out value for a joint tenancy.

    we co own a vacation property in DE, but never got around to penning a legal agreement. They wish to buy me out now 3 years later, or optioned me to buy them out. They paid more so I gave them 55% ownership upon purchase. They have invested in imp...

    James’s Answer

    Buying out of a joint tenancy is like buying out of a partnership of dissolving a partnership. Step one is to get an appraisal, Step two is to adjust this to private deal price. Generally this means deducting the 6% commission you would pay if you sold through a real estate agent. Next, deduct the mortgage. Next, adjust everyone capital account by repaying them for investment in the property. Finally multiply the balance by the other guy's percentage interest to find a buyout price. You pay the buyout price after first making the capital adjustments. I know I made this complex.
    Let me give you a more simple way to value. Get the appraisal, deduct the mortgage, deduct 6%, then your share is 45%, theirs is 55% of the balance.

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  • My sewer line runs through my neighbors lateral

    During renovations of my neighbors house he found and capped a serwr line in his basement. That line was mine. I had it reconnected and he is now threatening me to cap it again leaving me without access to sewage. I can not afford to run my own ...

    James’s Answer

    There is no form to fill out to get an injunction. Get a lawyer who will first push the neighbor into getting a lawyer. Any lawyer with half a brain will confirm that your neighbor cannot legally use self help to solve this problem. There should be no need to get an injunction if everyone is educated.

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  • I am looking for a lawyer who will be willing to work for commission from the win case? tenant/landlord matter

    tenants lived in a house for a year, have pictures of the house before they moved moved in and after they moved out. they used their deposit as last month (no deposit left). no keys returned, had to change locks to get it. the house is left dirty,...

    James’s Answer

    Two points: Number one: this board is for informational purposes but, it is not a place where the public can expect a lawyer to reply telling you he or she will take the case. By the rules we are not allowed to do that.

    If you used the PAR standard lease, it contains a provision allowing to recover the attorneys' fees you pay. That seems much more attractive than expecting a lawyer to drop everything and jump at the chance of making maybe $2000 if everything goes right and there is no collection problem.

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  • Need help in getting my mortgage satisfaction

    In Dec 2011 applied for home equity from TD bank. Received loan and paid off debts which included home equity from PNC Bank, mortgage from Ocwen Loan and credit cards. Received paid off notices from PNC and Ocwen that accounts were paid in full. I...

    James’s Answer

    Attorney Margolis is correct. Find a lawyer to send notice under the mortgage satisfaction act so you can go on the attack before they do.

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  • If I turned over my farm to my daughter for one dollar and she never gave me the dollar is this deal still legal

    she said she would let me stay in the house and said her husband would do any repairs and maintenance on this property. they have done nothing.

    James’s Answer

    Our legislature acted to eliminate the need for consideration when conveying real estate by deed. They did it in 1715!!! As a result there is a saying: failure of consideration does not equal failure of conveyance. Let me give you a real world example: You go to a title company for closing in connection with the sale of your home. The title company gives you a check which you deposit. A few days later the check bounces. You do not get your home back. You just have a claim against the title agent.

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  • I understand that my neighbor is legally permitted to trim branches that cross over onto their proper. Are they allowed to

    I understand that my neighbor is legally permitted to trim branches that cross over onto their property. Is it within their legal limit to throw those branches back onto my property? There is a tree that sits right on the property line (no nearby ...

    James’s Answer

    Let me say something practical and not legal. It does not matter what the law is because this is not the issue that is going to put you on the road to living next door to someone you hate, and who hates you. I always like to say one has to be willing to carefully pick the hills on which they are willing to die. From the hindsight view in two or three years, you will agree this is not even the hill on which you want to stub your toe. Take care of the branches and apologize to the neighbor for having your tree cross the line. Why apologize? Because there is a simple saying that acts as a vaccine against unneeded attorneys' fees. It goes like this: When two people have a disagreement, which one should apologize first? ANSWER: the person that was right.

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  • Who is at fault, title insurance company or underwriter of real estate company that sold home?

    My home has a private pedestrian footbridge (over a creek) to gain access to property from public street. When I tried to refi my home with the original real estate co, I was told that my home is now considered unacceptable property and should hav...

    James’s Answer

    Your question is: "Who is a fault?" Let's start by analyzing what you have been told. There seem to be two issues: 1) does the house meet the FNMA Sellers' Guide for acceptable loans; and 2) can you get fire insurance?
    1. Because the Sellers guide changes with great regularity, I am not going to second guess an underwriter. It may be true that the house does not qualify for a FNMA loan. That, however, is not the end of the story. You may be able to finance through US Dept of Ag, a local bank that holds its loans in its own investment portfolio, or some other non-FNMA lender. I would go find a mortgage broker, and an independent mortgage banker (two different breeds of cat) and ask them to work on solving this problem.

    2. Fire insurance does not require the truck to be able to drive up to the house. Rarely is a fire fought by men and women sitting on the back of a truck pointing a hose. Insurance decisions are made after looking at the property, and examining a C.L.U. E. report. Talk to an independent insurance agent and ask them to shop your risk around.

    Finally, I doubt your home is "unsellable." If my suggestions to you do not work out, I will be very surprised. Good Luck. Oh, back to your question. 1) a title company deals with marketability of title and pedestrian access-- no mistake there, 2) your mortgage underwriter placed the loan. Probably by avoiding FNMA, 3) your real estate agent was able to get you to the closing table with a mortgage. I don't see a case against any of the three. I see you finding a solution.

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  • How do I get my name off the mortgage?

    My now ex-husband and I are co-owners on the mortgage of the house we had bought together. He has neglected the mortgage payment a few times since we got divorced. The house is listed for sale but has not yet sold. I am not able to get a bank to c...

    James’s Answer

    You can get your name off the mortgage in these ways:
    1) sell the house and pay off the mortgage;
    2) refinance of the existing mortgage;
    3) loss of the home in foreclosure.

    As you can see only option 1 will work.

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