PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION SUPPORTING PROPOSED PHILADELPHIA CITY COUNCIL BILL 210671 AMENDING TITLE 9 OF THE PHILADELPHIA CODE, ENTITLED “REGULATION OF BUSINESS, TRADES AND PROFESSIONS,” BY ADDING A NEW CHAPTER REQUIRING BUSINESSES OR PROFESSIONS TO PROVIDE DISCLOSURES REGARDING TANGLED TITLES

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has a long history of supporting legislation and policies that help low-income and vulnerable tenants and homeowners secure and maintain decent and affordable housing; and

WHEREAS, the City of Philadelphia has long suffered with the “Tangled Title” epidemic, which describes circumstances where individuals have a legal interest in their home, but are not the record or legal owner; and

WHEREAS, individuals who face Tangled Title issues on their properties suffer serious consequences, including the inability to obtain a grant or loan to make urgently needed repairs, to easily enter into payment plans for delinquent utility or real estate tax bills to avoid a Sheriff’s sale of their homes, to negotiate with a mortgage company as to a delinquent mortgage, to obtain homeowners’ insurance, and to transfer or encumber title in the future; and

WHEREAS, if Tangled Title issues are left unresolved, individuals are left with the impossible choice of living in unsafe conditions or becoming homeless; and

WHEREAS, Pew Charitable Trust (“Pew”) recently released a research report entitled “How ‘Tangled Titles’ Affect Philadelphia,” and concluded that Philadelphia has over 10,000 properties or 2% of residential properties affected by Tangled Title; and

WHEREAS, the Pew Report also concluded that the populations of the hardest hit areas are predominantly Black, and the neighborhoods most affected tend to be those with relatively low housing values, low incomes, and high poverty rates; and

WHEREAS, the Pew Report also concluded that the properties affected by Tangled Title are collectively worth over $1.1 billion, representing a significant amount of inaccessible family wealth for families who desperately need it; and

WHEREAS, a Tangled Title can occur immediately upon the death of a record owner; and

WHEREAS, many individuals are living in a home titled in the name of a deceased relative whose estate was never probated; and

WHEREAS, Pew, legal services agencies, and government agencies, including the Register of Wills, have concluded that education and outreach with the community is one of the most effective ways to end the proliferation of future Tangled Titles; and

WHEREAS, Philadelphia City Council Bill No. 210671, introduced by Councilmember Gilmore Richardson, would amend the Philadelphia Code by requiring funeral homes to provide a Tangled Title information sheet, created and made available by the Department of Records, which would detail the steps necessary and resources available for an heir or heirs to legally transfer the property to avoid a tangled title.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association urges City Council to adopt and the Mayor to sign City Council Bill No. 210671, or any similar legislation that would amend the Philadelphia Code to require a funeral home to provide the family of the deceased with a Tangled Title information sheet made available by the Department of Records.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee shall communicate the position of the Association on such legislation to members of City Council, the Mayor, the profession, the public and the media, and take other steps as may be necessary to effectuate this resolution.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: October 28, 2021


1 Pew Charitable Trusts, “How ‘Tangled Titles’ Affect Philadelphia” (2021), p. 1. See: https://www.pewtrusts.org/-/media/assets/2021/08/tangledtitlesphilly_report_final.pdf

2 Id., p. 8.

3 Id., p. 4.