COVID-19 Housing Resources
TEMPORARY BAN ON EVICTIONS
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued several Orders to declare a judicial emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent Order, dated April 28, 2020, closes all Pennsylvania Courts for new evictions until at least May 31, 2020. The Order makes it clear that NO EVICTIONS are to be conducted until after May 11, 2020. The Order also allows local courts to extend the emergency ban on evictions through May 31, 2020. Several Common Pleas Courts in Pennsylvania have extended the emergency order through the end of May 2020.
There is also a federal law limiting evictions against people in public housing, people who have Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, people in public senior housing, and people in certain other types of federally funded housing programs.
The C.A.R.E.S. Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) was signed into law on March 27, 2020. This Act prohibits property owners from filing new evictions for non-payment of rent against tenants in various types of publicly funded housing. The ban lasts for 120 days, or until July 25, 2020. During that time the owners of covered properties may not file an eviction for nonpayment of rent or charge late fees or any other penalties related to nonpayment of rent.
Owners of covered properties also may not issue any Notice to Vacate during that 120 day period. Owners of covered properties must give 30-days' notice of filing an eviction for nonpayment of rent after the ban ends. This effectively extends the ban on filing eviction cases for tenants in covered properties until August 23, 2020.
You should still pay your rent, if you can, during this time. Refusing to pay rent could lead your landlord to take legal action against you when the ban ends.
You can learn more about the eviction and foreclosure protections in Pennsylvania and other states by visiting the Regional Housing Legal Services Eviction Moratorium Map.
Self-Help Evictions, or lock-outs, are illegal in Pennsylvania. An example of a self-help eviction is if your landlord has changed your locks, or threatened to, without ever taking you to court. Another is if your landlord has shut off your utilities or made your home unlivable in the hopes that you will just move out. In order to evict you, a landlord MUST follow the correct legal procedures. Those procedures are currently changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an Emergency Order to stop all new eviction actions while the COVID-19 pandemic is active. No evictions can happen in Pennsylvania until after April 30, 2020. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro wrote a letter to all Pennsylvania landlords to remind them that there are limits on evictions right now due to the coronavirus. He reminds landlords and mortgage lenders that they must use the correct legal process for evicting tenants, and asks them to be fair to tenants while this state of emergency continues.
If your landlord has changed your locks, threatened to lock you out, cut your utility service, or refused to make necessary repairs, please contact North Penn Legal Services by completing the online intake form.
Resources for Public Housing Tenants and Tenants with Housing Choice Vouchers
While the COVID-19 crisis continues, HUD is allowing public housing authorities to waive certain rules and procedures in the interest of public safety. Local housing authorities are encouraged, but not required, to adopt temporary new rules based on the recommendations. HUD has also issued guidance to housing authorities encouraging then to be flexible.
Many local housing authorities have relaxed their rules for reporting changes of income. Most Housing Authority offices are closed temporarily. Changes of income should still be timely reported to the housing authority by mail, fax, phone message and/or e-mail to the tenant’s assigned case worker. Some housing authorities are allowing tenants to self-certify their change in income by signing a sworn statement and providing it to their housing authority by mail, e-mail, or fax. Tenants should hold on to any paperwork to provide at a later date if it is requested. Note that the $1,200.00 coronavirus stimulus payments ARE NOT considered income that would have to be reported. The stimulus payments are temporary, non-recurring payments that will not impact a HUD tenant’s income eligibility or reporting requirements.