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

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued an updated version of its Endorsement Guides, which includes important information about the FTC’s current thoughts on when and how material connections between brands and endorsers should be disclosed.

In yesterday’s post, I discussed some background information about the theory behind FTC rules and endorsements and summarized some of the key points from the FTC’s guidance on when disclosures should be made. Below is a discussion of a few key points from the Endorsement Guides about how disclosures should be made online. Continue Reading Marketers and Influencers: How Should You Make Disclosures Online?

I have written a number of times on this blog about providing reasonable accommodations for “service animals” and “emotional support animals.”  This legal battle continues to affect condominium and homeowner association communities.  A recent case shows a new way that a condominium association could get in trouble for refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation: because of a neighbor’s blog post.

Estate of Walters v. Cowpet Bay West Condominium Association, begins with the “usual” issue.  Two condominium unit owners sought to keep “emotional support dogs” in the condominium.  The condominium’s rules absolutely banned pets.  In this case, the Court determined that the unit owners were disabled, and that the support animals were necessary to allow them the use and enjoyment of the condominium unit.  Because of this, the condominium association was required to make a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act.

The concerning part of this case arises from the blog of some disgruntled neighbors.  The opinion from the United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, quoted a number of blog posts from residents of the community that opposed the emotional support dogs.  One neighbor replied on a blog post “isolate them [the unit owners] completely to their little “dog patch” on the beach and ignore them at every venue or occasion!” Continue Reading Could a Condominium Face Legal Trouble Because of Residents’ Blog Against Emotional Support Animals

crayonsToday’s National Crayon Day. While it should be a happy day, full of nostalgic memories of simpler times, I’m feeling bittersweet since Crayola has announced that it will retire dandelion from its standard 24 pack of crayons. With change comes new opportunity – a brand new color will be announced today to replace dandelion, albeit with some big shoes to fill. The name of the crayon will likely be determined by a contest.

As a business lawyer, I’ve grown fond of the familiar entity formation laws that I’ve grown up with. The Pennsylvania Limited Liability Company Law of 1994 has gone largely unchanged since my graduation from law school, and it was my dandelion. I knew that when I opened up my box of crayons (Westlaw), the LLCL was there in all of its glory, just as I remembered it. But as of tomorrow, the provisions of Act 170 will be the law of the land for all Pennsylvania LLCs and will be known as the Pennsylvania Uniform Limited Liability Company Act of 2016. Unfortunately, the naming contest is already over and our legislature missed an opportunity to consult the Internet, which has significant expertise in creative naming.

Act 170 makes some significant revisions to the unincorporated entity laws in Pennsylvania. Unincorporated entities include partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs) and now limited liability limited partnerships. While the law was effective on February 21, 2017 for newly created entities, as of April 1, 2017, the changes in Act 170 apply retroactively to all existing LLCs and limited partnerships. Continue Reading Significant Changes Effective April 1 for Pennsylvania’s LLC and Partnership Laws

We trust our computers to handle our to-do lists and calendars because they never forget, right? While computers are good at remembering what we tell them (and a big thank you to Google for remembering my kids’ birthdays), one of the current weaknesses of artificial intelligence (AI) is that it cannot apply what it learns in a different scenario. For example, an AI that learns to play chess does not have a leg up when learning to play checkers. Essentially, computers have a “catastrophic forgetting” problem that forces them to relearn what they already knew just because they are presented with a new project.

Researchers are now making breakthroughs to overcome this ‘forgetfulness’ problem. Working in connection with neuroscientists, researchers are attempting to have AI learn more like humans so they can apply what they have learned in one context to another related context without starting over. In other words, teach computers to learn more like humans do so they stop forgetting what they already learned. Continue Reading Teaching Computers Not to Forget Could Cut the Costs of Litigation

We have written a couple of posts about the Lancaster County-wide Property Tax Reassessment.  In this post, we want to focus specifically on commercial and industrial properties.  This includes any sort of income producing properties, including apartments and other rental properties.

As we explained before, the aim of the 2018 Reassessment is to make the assessed value of property equal to the actual fair market value of that property.  That is relatively easy to do with residential property – the County can see what properties of a similar size and location have sold for, and compare that to your residential property.  But for commercial property, that is much more difficult.  Your commercial property is different from most other properties.  Continue Reading Lancaster County Reassessment – Commercial and Industrial Property Assessment Appeals

I have the pleasure of working with numerous clients who own bars, restaurants, hotels and breweries, so when Nate Bunty asked me to participate in an Expert Interview on Liquor Liability I was happy to share some of the knowledge and experience I have gained over the years. Nate is the Managing Partner of Heritage Insurance Agency and the interview included many topics of interest unique to the hospitality industry. Nate specializes in meeting the insurance needs of businesses in the hospitality sector, and we had a chance to discuss some of the specialized issues that confront that industry, both from an insurance perspective and from a legal one.

Check out Nate’s blog to find additional information for those in the hospitality industry with regard to their insurance needs.

Aaron Zeamer is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He practices in a variety of areas including Business Law and Liquor License matters. Aaron works frequently with commercial real estate agents, brokers, restaurant and bar owners, breweries, distilleries, and wineries to facilitate the sale and transfer of PA liquor licenses.