We all know someone with a story like this these days:  You find the house of your dreams.  It is in a good neighborhood with a good school district.  You are preapproved for a mortgage, and you tell your realtor to put in an offer for the full asking price.  The next day, your realtor tells you that there were five all-cash offers all over the asking price.  So you lose out on the home.  For some, this scenario has played out over and over again in the past 18 months.

From the outside, today’s housing market looks a lot like the one in 2006.  Buyers are racing to make offers on existing homes.  Developers are overpaying for vacant land, hoping to sell at a high enough price to cover their debt.  People much, much more qualified than me — like Nobel Prize-winning economists and professors — are trying to figure out why housing prices are increasing so rapidly.  And more importantly, they are trying to figure out what is coming next.

Is this a housing bubble?  Is the market going to crash again like it did in 2008?

Continue Reading Will Housing Prices Ever Come Down? Comparing the Housing Bubble of the 2000s to Today

Tuesday evening, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) sent out an email notification indicating that, effective immediately, certain measures that were in place during the COVID-19 pandemic have been eliminated.  The most notable changes relate to the temporary authorization that the PLCB granted to allow for the use of expanded outdoor seating areas and the sale of mixed drinks to go by retail licensees.

What’s the genesis of this? Why is the rug seemingly being pulled out from under an industry that generates over $24 Billion in sales?  The industry surely deserves better. Today’s post will explain how and why they’re making these decisions as the disaster declaration ends.

Continue Reading End of the Disaster Declaration Disastrous for Licensees

Now that people who have been vaccinated are allowed to throw away their masks, the question on people’s minds is, “How do we enforce that?” Employers want to know if they can ask their employees for proof of vaccination.

Surprisingly, yes.

Most employers are allowed to ask their employees for proof that they have received vaccines. Asking for proof of a vaccine does not violate HIPAA or the ADA.

Continue Reading Can Employers Ask Their Employees for Proof of Vaccination?

Now that the weather is warming, residents are taking to the sidewalks, walking trails and open spaces of their Community Associations.  Here are some reminders for property managers and board members.

Homeowners’ Associations are not required to protect residents from dogs

With everyone out walking their dogs and children soon to be out of school, Associations often ask if they are required to make rules and regulations to control dogs.  Associations are not required to protect residents from other people’s pets.

But, if the Association does create rules and regulations to control dogs, it needs to enforce them.

Continue Reading Reminders for Condominiums and Homeowners’ Associations: People Coming Out of Their Homes Edition

As expected, the Governor’s office and the Department of Health (DOH) have released updated guidance to help bars, restaurants, hotels and others implement the updated mitigation orders that will allow many businesses to increase their capacity starting April 4.  Here is a link to the full guidance, as well as a link here for updated FAQ’s issued by the Department of Health, but I highlight a few of the main items below.

Bar Service

You can resume bar service provided you implement the following rules.

  • Patrons must be seated in order to be served.
  • Bar blocks or some type of divider must be used to separate parties. Alternatively, if partitions are not used, then seats between parties must be spaced at least 6 feet apart. If multiple people are in a party, they may sit next to one another at the bar, without 6 feet of space in between.  The 6 feet of space is required between parties, not individuals in the same party.
  • A customer may walk up to the bar in order to purchase food or drink but must then return to their seat in order to consume it.


Continue Reading Updated Restaurant Guidance for April 4th Increased Capacity

One year ago today, on March 18, 2020, Aaron Marines wrote a blog article entitled How Does Coronavirus Affect Your Contracts? When that article was published, we were at the beginning of a government-mandated shutdown that was supposed to last for two weeks, just long enough to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 cases.

Now, one year later, with shut down orders still partially in effect and the phrase “flatten the curve” a distant memory, I decided to look back at what has happened on the Lancaster Law Blog. What I saw was a variety of articles about all of the things we here at Russell, Krafft & Gruber have done to stay up-to-date on the fast-paced changes to help our clients through this difficult time.

Virtual Offices

After the initial shutdown orders took effect, we quickly pivoted to working remotely through Russell, Krafft & Gruber’s virtual office to avoid any lapses in service for our clients. I was pleasantly surprised when I spoke with a client recently who was shocked to learn that most of our conversations over the past year took place with me at my dining room table.

Continue Reading COVID-19 and the Law: One Year Later

The Governor’s office has just announced that bars and restaurants can, starting at midnight on April 4, 2021, begin operating at 75% capacity, provided they have completed the self-certification process.

Self-Certification to Increase Capacity

For those that didn’t self-certify, that process is done online and requires you to certify that you will comply with CDC and Department of Health guidance relating to public health and safety measures to stem the spread of COVID-19. If you have not self-certified (and do not wish to now), you will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity. Currently, locations that don’t self-certify must operate at 25% capacity.

Regardless of whether you have self-certified or not, requirements such as mask-wearing and social distancing still apply.

Continue Reading Increased Occupancy up to 75% for Bars and Restaurants in PA – Effective April 4

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed a $1.9 trillion stimulus act into law known as the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the “Act”). While it would be impossible to do a deep dive into this massive stimulus package, here are some quick takeaways for individuals.

Stimulus Checks

The Act will provide payments to approximately 159 million American households that will start to go out on March 13, 2021.  The maximum amount per person is $1,400, including dependents.

The amount distributed will, again, be based on adjusted gross income and will have a phase-out period. Here’s who will receive the full amount:

  • individuals who earn up to $75,000
  • head of household filers with income of up to $112,500 and
  • married couples filing jointly with incomes up to $150,000


Continue Reading American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 – What Does It Mean For You?

Last week, the Governor signed into law Senate Bill 109, which included $145 Million of funds allocated specifically for grants to the restaurant and hotel industries.  The Bill intentionally included some swift deadlines for Counties to accept applications and allocate funds.

This week, the Lancaster County Commissioners approved an Agreement with the Economic Development Company (EDC) of Lancaster to administer the funds allocated to the County under the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP). Along with that Agreement comes some additional specifics for the program that interested applicants should know.

How much money is available?

Congress has allocated $6,181,069 to Lancaster County for distribution to eligible applicants.

More importantly, since the County has engaged the EDC to distribute other recovery funds, the EDC was able to quickly create program parameters and should also be able to quickly roll out an application.

Continue Reading Lancaster EDC to Administer COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP)

After months of uncertainty about whether additional relief for restaurants and hotels would come from state and federal government sources, some good news has started to flow to the hotel and restaurant industry. The latest comes in the form of a $145 Million allocation of funds to provide grants to those restaurants and hotels that have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, as part of a larger $900+ Million relief package aimed at helping businesses, local governments, and others, the Governor signed Senate Bill 109. This Bill allocates $145 Million previously transferred from the PA Workers’ Compensation Fund and designates it for the exclusive purpose of providing grants to hotels and restaurants.

Continue Reading $145 Million in Relief for Restaurants and Hotels