A simple answer to that question, many things. Those of us in the apartment industry know that one of our least favorite functions and duties is the inevitable reality of needing to evict a resident. The vast majority of community management teams never make this decision lightly and do so with a heavy heart. Even still, residents that have failed to comply with community policies, such as making the community unsafe or undesirable for residents who do follow the rules, must have their leases terminated.
Last week Pennsylvania’s Governor Wolf extended the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures from July 10, 2020 to August 31, 2020. Under the eviction moratorium, community managers cannot serve eviction notices until August 31 and if a community manager previously served an eviction notice, based upon which an eviction proceeding had not already begun, the eviction notice shall not be delivered until the moratorium ends.
Previously there was no distinction between “good cause evictions” (those unrelated to lack of payment) and evictions for residents that were experiencing a legitimate hardship. The amended executive order does not apply to proceedings regarding property damage or illegal activity. This is good news for community managers who may have proceedings in process or need to start the eviction process for reasons other than a renter’s ability to pay rent.
There is help for renters hurt economically during the pandemic. The Legislature has set aside $150 million of Federal CARES Act funding for rent assistance. Community managers can refer renters experiencing economic hardship to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. To be eligible for relief, renters must show that since March 1, 2020, they either filed for unemployment or lost at least 30% of their annual income, which must not exceed the median in their county.
Renters who do qualify will receive assistance up to $750 a month for a maximum of six months for the period between March and November 2020. Payments are made to landlords on behalf of renters. Renters or landlords can apply for rent relief for apartment tenants, but renters are responsible for submitting all documentation needed to show eligibility.
There is an important caveat with this program though for landlords. If landlords accept the awarded funds, they cannot ask renters for additional rent even if the funds do not cover the full rent. They also must agree not to evict tenants until 60 days after the final assistance payment.
We understand this is a difficult time for everyone—community managers, owners, and renters—and we are operating in a time of continued uncertainty.
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