Top Ten Things You Should Know About Pennsylvania’s Land Bank Legislation

Top Ten Things You Should Know about Pennsylvania’s Land Bank Legislation
Written by Karen Beck Pooley for the Housing Alliance of PA
1. PA land banks can take many forms and touch communities of all kinds.
– The law allows counties and municipalities with at least 10,000 residents to create their own land bank by local ordinance OR to create a joint land bank with other communities through an Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement (ICA).
2. PA land banks have “all powers necessary” to repurpose vacant and abandoned property. They can…
– Borrow and invest money;
– Design, develop, construct, demolish, reconstruct, rehabilitate, renovate, relocate and otherwise improve real property;
– Charge and collect rents for the use of land bank-owned property;
– Enter into partnerships and other collaborative relationships with public and private entities.
3. PA land banks can acquire properties in a number of ways.
– Properties (or interests in properties) can come into the land bank as gifts or donations; through transfers or exchanges with other entities; through foreclosure or purchase; and from municipalities or tax claim bureaus
4. But PA land banks explicitly do not have the power of eminent domain.
5. PA land banks can discharge or extinguish tax liens and pursue quiet title action through an expedited procedure.
– The discharge or extinguishing of school taxes is subject to school district approval.
– Multiple parcels of real property may be joined in a single complaint in action to quiet title.
6. Properties held by PA land banks are exempt from state and local taxes but not from laws and codes.
– Only land bank properties continuously leased to a private 3rd party for more than five years owe state and local taxes.
– Land banks properties must be maintained in accordance with all applicable laws and codes.
7. Laws that restrict how municipalities may dispose of real property do not apply to PA land banks.
– Land banks may sell, transfer, lease, or mortgage real property for any amount and/or form of consideration – as well as for any future use – it determines to be appropriate.
8. PA land banks can be staffed in several ways.
– Land banks can hire their own employees or pay city, county and/or redevelopment authority staff to carry out land bank activities.
9. Community members and stakeholders play a key role in PA land bank operations.
– Land bank board members may include local elected officials and/or municipal employees and must include at least one community resident or member of a civic organization.
– All meetings are open to the public.
10. PA land banks can fund their operations through an array of sources.
– Grants and loans from public and private sources;
– Rents and lease payments or fees for services rendered;
– Proceeds from property sales;
– Proceeds from the issuance of tax exempt bonds; and
– Up to 50% of real property taxes collected on repositioned properties (for five years after transfer).
For more information, please contact the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania , Call 215 576 7044 or Email
Written by Karen Beck Pooley for the Housing Alliance of PA