What would you do if you couldn't find out the legal status of a park?

This is an extremely odd situation that I’m dealing with in PA right now. I am almost all the way through due diligence and we still do not have the legal status on a property we are under contract with from the township (PA thing). My first request for this information was made at the beginning of June and we are now nearing the end of our 45-day diligence with no answer as of yet.

I have followed up daily up to this point, is it now appropriate to get an attorney involved to compel the township to provide the property’s legal status? Or, is there something else I should consider doing instead?

Extend the closing date by agreement with seller, contingent on just that one item being satisfied. Assuming everything else is a “go.” Get Seller to cooperate or help. Get your closing attorney or title company to help, possibly?

Or is township the seller, did you mean?


Township is not the seller here. I’ve also reached out to the seller and her attorney in order to attempt to extend the diligence period and get them working on it also. We also have an attorney representing us so I have gotten them involved. I finally got this answer from the township:

“What I can tell you is that the property is not currently (to our knowledge) under any “active” violations of Township Ordinances. With that being said, violations are typically driven by a complaint basis. Therefore we are not saying that necessarily the overall site is in full compliance of all the Township Ordinance regulations. This determination would have to be made upon a thorough review of the site, the improvements made and when and records of permits, etc. As long as the appropriate permits were secured at the time any site improvements were installed then there should be no question of compliance. I would assume that the current owner can advise you on this matter more readily than our office can.”

This is in response to my question of, “Is the property legal, legal non-conforming, or illegal; is there a permit or license required to operate the park; how many lots am I allowed to have there; etc” I have also given them definitions of each what each legal status is so there is no confusion as to what I am asking here. Keep in mind, this is the head of the township’s zoning department who responded that way to my request.

What state are you in?

Have you been to city hall / county records? Do you know what the zoning map for the area looks like?

PA. The city doesn’t have anything to do with the zoning as everything is handled at the Township level. Went to the county as well and they also refer everything to the township on matters of zoning. All of the zoning for this township is subbed out to a small engineering company. The township only has one employee and she is a secretary. It’s bizarre.

I agree your attorney should get something equivalent to a certificate of zoning. If it takes them more than 45 days to give you this it would take them decades to raise a case your zoning is an issue. I think there is a reasonable timeline they have to respond to your Freedom of Information Act request…

I guess a bigger concern is what prevents Joe down the road just opening up his own illegal MHP? Is the code enforcement department better staffed than zoning?

One park I had under contract I had to prove to the city it was non-conforming, which entailed pulling 20 year old records from the appraisal district and historic aerials from various sources…

Curious - are you trying to get bank financing for this deal? If yes, wouldn’t the bank require proof that you have proper zoning/permits to run it? If so then that is another reason to get the deal extended until you get the answer. Unless another buyer wants to pay all cash and take the chance, then any other potential buyer will run into the same issue.

Course, there are lots of crazy buyers who would pay all cash without the answer :confused:

It’s being seller financed with very little down.