I recently wrote about a trend in Pennsylvania case law that has permitted short-term vacation rentals, such as Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO and others, in otherwise residential neighborhoods. In each of these cases, a homeowner rented out their single-family residential dwelling to vacationers, the municipality claimed the short-term rental was a violation of the Zoning ordinance, and the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court said that the short-term rentals were still residential uses, not hotels or tourist homes.  All of these cases said that if the municipality wanted to prohibit short-term vacation rentals, they needed to specifically and unquestionably prohibit that use.  Continue Reading How Can Associations Deal With Renters – Either Short Or Long Term?

I had the pleasure of attending the 2017 general membership meeting for the BIA of Lancaster County at the Inn at Leola Village.  The featured speaker for the event was Dr. Robert Dietz, the chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders.  Dr. Dietz gave a detailed status report about the state of the building industry today, and some projections for the near future.  Most of Dr. Dietz’s discussion centered on one main theme:  there are not enough single family homes to meet today’s demand.  He spent time discussing why this is happening and the effects it could have over the next few years.  Continue Reading Notes from the 2017 Annual Building Industry Association County Meeting

The Central Penn Business Journal published an insert on Mergers and Acquisitions in 2017.  The tag line of this insert is one of the most important considerations for transitioning a family business:  “Timing is Everything.”  One of the articles, “When a Buyer is Knocking,” featured John Stoner, the head of the business consulting group at RKL.

The article makes the point that, for many companies, the value of the company is closely tied to the company’s founder.  This is especially true for family businesses.  If the founder of the business gets hit by a bus (or simply disappears to the Caribbean after winning the lottery), usually a lot of the value of that business disappears.  If you are looking to sell your business, you need to understand your value and how it effects a sale.

Because the founder creates much of the value of the family business, the timing of the sale has a profound effect on the sale price of the company.  For example, if the founder sells the company when he or she is ready to completely walk away from the business, then the business is losing one of its greatest assets.  In this case, the amount that someone else is willing to pay for the company is going to be reduced.  Continue Reading What If Someone Wants To Buy Your Business Before You Are Ready To Sell?

The Today show announced this week that Matt Lauer has been fired after nearly 24 years on the show following an allegation made by a colleague of “inappropriate sexual behavior.”  I won’t bother linking to any of the news stories as you’ve probably already seen quite a few on this subject.  What made this story more shocking was that Lauer’s termination came less than 48 hours after the allegation was made.  This swift reaction demonstrates how attitudes in the public arena regarding workplace misconduct are beginning to shift.  But power can be exploited at all levels, which is why it’s imperative that every business owner, large or small, is aware of the laws and their responsibility to maintain a workplace that is free of sexual harassment.  An Associated Press article posted on Lancaster Online this morning discusses how Failing to address harassment allegations can cost employers.

This blog is the first in a series focusing on sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace.  Follow up posts will look at what’s important from the employer’s view, the employee’s and that of the accused.  As we become more comfortable having open discussion about workplace conduct, employers and employees need to learn more about this problem.   A key starting point for this discussion is the understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment. Continue Reading Employers and Employees: Do You Understand the Law and Sexual Harassment?

When you think of a document drafted by an attorney, what do expect? Crisp, clean prose that conveys its meaning in as few words as possible? Probably not. Large walls of incomprehensible text that no one (maybe not even the lawyer) has read carefully? Sounds more like it.

In the legal profession we refer to these regularly used blocks of text as “boilerplate” language (although boilerplate can also refer to blocks of frequently used computer code). The term boilerplate comes from the similarity between the curved steel used to make boilers and the curved plates that printed newspapers in the early 1900s. Boilerplate legal language often covers repeatedly used topics like the court where disputes will be resolved  or indicating that an agreement may be signed electronically. Continue Reading Boilerplate Language – What is it Good For? (Absolutely somethin’?)

In the early stages of a business, a solo entrepreneur or small group of founders are forced to do it all – business planning, marketing, sales, bookkeeping, management, human resources…the list goes on and on. While founders are focused on all of these roles and accompanying decisions, it’s easy and convenient to look for a quick, easy and inexpensive fixes when it comes to the legal steps to forming a business entity.

Below are the three most common mistakes I see founders make when forming a Pennsylvania business entity: Continue Reading Don’t Make These 3 Common Mistakes When Forming a Pennsylvania Business Entity

Short-term vacation home rentals – such as Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO and others – are becoming more and more common today.  They are present not only in traditional vacation spots such as the Poconos, but more and more in every kind of neighborhood.  Many of these short-term rentals are happening in relatively “normal” suburban or urban communities.  Very often, these neighborhoods are not equipped to deal with vacationing out-of-towners using, and all too frequently abusing, one of their neighbor’s homes every week.  So the question remains “are these short-term rentals violations?”  Continue Reading Are Short-Term Rentals Permitted In Your Neighborhood?

In my post yesterday about The Extraordinary Give, I mentioned that each participating organization must be a 501(c)(3) organization. If you’re anything like me, you may have wondered – how did those organizations get to be a 501(c)(3)?

I’m glad you asked: here’s an overview of the typical process of starting a community benefit organization in Pennsylvania. Continue Reading How to Start a Community Benefit Organization in Pennsylvania

The 6th annual Extraordinary Give is coming soon: this year on Friday, November 17, 2017 from midnight to 11:59 pm, you’ll be able to support the community benefit organizations that you love by donating with your dollars. In addition to benefiting from your donations, there are several additional prizes that the participating organizations will be eligible to win.

Hosted by the Lancaster County Community Foundation, the Extraordinary Give is Lancaster County’s largest day of charitable giving, and over the past five years, over 500 organizations have benefitted from the event, with more than $22.5 million in total donations.

To learn more about the Extraordinary Give, check out their website here: extragive.org. There, you can browse the participating community benefit organizations by category or see a full list of all participating organizations. On November 17, you can keep track of all donations in real time on The Extraordinary Give Leaderboard. Continue Reading Save the Date: The Extraordinary Give is Next Friday, November 17, 2017

In many cases, an association will seek a Court Order to enforce its rules and regulations.  In those cases, the association asks a Judge to order the unit owner to stop doing something that they are not allowed to do, or to make some sort of change to comply with association governing documents or rules and regulations.  Since the association is asking the Judge to require a specific behavior, it needs to be sure that it asks for exactly what it wants.  Continue Reading Associations Should Be Careful What They Ask For