September 30, 2020 was the deadline for Pennsylvania residents to apply for federal coronavirus relief. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, tenants who are unable to pay rent are protected from eviction and late fees.
Now that the deadline has passed, what does this mean for tenants and landlords? What can you do if you’re affected by late rental payments during the pandemic? Hoegen & Associates, P.C. explores everything you need to know about rent relief in Pennsylvania.
CARES Rent Relief Program (RRP) in Pennsylvania
The PA Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) has overseen the application process for the CARES Rent Relief Program (RRP). Under CARES RRP, Pennsylvania received $150 million dollars in assistance, which goes towards eligible tenants and landlords.
To qualify, tenants must have become unemployed after March 1 or experienced at least a 30% drop in their annual income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to mention that every county in Pennsylvania has a median income. Those whose annual income exceeds their county’s median income, based on their household size, do not qualify for RRP.
Rent relief, which is worth up to $4,500 per renter, goes directly to landlords. This amount covers up to $750 per month between March 1st and November 30th, 2020. All funding must be paid out to landlords by November 30.
What Happens Now?
As of October 1, 2020, PHFA is no longer accepting applications for the CARES Rent Relief Program (RRP). However, it’s possible that the program may restart and extend the deadline, pending a decision by the state legislature in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, what can landlords do? Can landlords evict tenants at this time?
Pennsylvania’s ban on evictions ended at the end of August. Some Democratic lawmakers in Pennsylvania have proposed extending Governor Tom Wolf’s ability to ban evictions, but this legislation has not passed so far. Landlords can still, once again, file a “Notice to Quit” on tenants, albeit with delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and new hurdles that protect tenants.
Under a federal moratorium recently enacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some tenants may be protected from eviction through December 31, 2020 ﹣ but not all may qualify.
Both landlords and tenants are struggling financially at this time. Evictions can be expensive and time-consuming. It’s encouraged that landlords and tenants try to work together during this time. But this may not be plausible in some cases where tenants have continued to miss payments, do not qualify for CARES RRP, or have yet to file for rental assistance.
Between the new federal moratorium and a possible extension of the CARES RRP deadline, some landlords may want to wait to serve evictions to tenants who are unable to pay at this time, but this will greatly depend on every individual case.
What Landlords Can Do About Rent Relief in Pennsylvania
If you are a landlord in Pennsylvania and are struggling at this time to secure collections, the attorneys at Hoegen & Associates, P.C. can help. Please contact us today for assistance!