Pennsylvania Eviction Relief
Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order halting all foreclosures and evictions in Pennsylvania through July 10 due to COVID. Landlords and lenders cannot begin evictions or foreclosures until after July 10. This eviction relief is welcome news for those who are struggling financially during the COVID crisis. However, the additional delays may cause consternation among landlords and lenders.
Practical Effect of Halted Proceedings
For tenants, they cannot be evicted until after July 10 but realistically the delay will keep them in their homes into the Fall. All timelines relating to evictions or foreclosures must be computed with a start date of July 10, 2020. This means that notices to quit for evictions, even if sent before Gov. Wolf’s original March executive order, will be deemed delivered as of July 10. Eviction proceedings will be deemed to have commenced on July 10. The typical eviction process takes about 90 days. The practical effect is that tenants going through the full eviction process cannot be removed until mid-October. Appeals could extend that date much further.
Certain Renters Get Additional Relief
If you are renting from an owner who has a federally backed mortgage, the CARES Act provides for a suspension or moratorium on evictions. If your landlord has a federally backed mortgage or multi-family mortgage, you cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent for 120 days beginning on March 27, 2020, the effective date of the CARES Act. After July 25, the landlord cannot require you, the tenant, to vacate until providing you with a thirty-day notice to vacate.
Rent Payments Are Still Payable
The executive order does not suspend tenants’ duties under their lease. Tenants are still required to make monthly payments. You should make every effort to pay the rent when it is due. If rent payment is a concern, due to a loss or reduction in income for any reason caused by the effects of COVID, please contact your landlord to discuss your situation and payment options. Repayment options can include postponement or even reduction of current rental payments. Any agreement between you and your landlord should be put in writing, signed by both you and the landlord. You may need to refer to it at a later date. Whatever agreement you reach, it is very important that you comply with it.
Mortgage Payments May Still Payable
Protections for borrowers are much broader. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, puts in place two protections for homeowners with federally backed mortgages (which covers most mortgages):
First, your lender may not foreclose on you for 60 days after March 18, 2020. Specifically, the CARES Act prohibits lenders from beginning a foreclosure against you, or from finalizing a foreclosure judgment or sale, during this period of time. Gov. Wolf’s executive order extends this delay until July 10.
Second, if you experience financial hardship due to COVID, you have a right to request a forbearance for up to 180 days. You also have the right to request an extension for up to another 180 days. You must contact your loan servicer to request this forbearance. There will be no additional fees, penalties or additional interest (beyond scheduled amounts) added to your account. You do not need to submit additional documentation to qualify other than your claim to have a pandemic-related financial hardship.
Get whatever agreement you reach with your lender in writing. You can check to see if your mortgage is covered by the CARES Act here. If you don’t have a federally backed mortgage, you still may have relief options through your mortgage loan servicer or from your state. Forbearance does not erase what you owe. You’ll have to repay any missed or reduced payments in the future. So, if you’re able to keep up with your payments, keep making them. The types of forbearance available vary by loan type.
If you need help working with your landlord or lender or understanding your options you may want to reach out to one of our attorneys to help you with your specific situation.