News for Pennsylvania Renters: Evictions Set to Restart in PA as Philadelphia Rental Assistance Program Gears Up for Phase 2

Back in March, the coronavirus pandemic brought life to a standstill. As we emerge from the initial shock of having our lives turned upside down, many families are struggling to hold it together. This is particularly true for many residential tenants. Across the country eviction moratoriums are coming to an end, and an estimated 6.7 million households are facing eviction. Without additional action, Pennsylvania’s eviction moratorium will end this month. With so much uncertainty, here’s a little information on local moratoriums and rental assistance for anyone facing the looming threat of eviction.

Evictions Set to Begin in July

Across Pennsylvania, a moratorium is in place, preventing new eviction filings until July 10th. However, landlords who filed to evict a renter before March 17th can move forward with those proceedings as early as July 6th. It is important to note that these dates do not apply to federally subsidized housing units. Under the CARES Act, Section 8 and public housing landlords must wait until July 25th.

Renters in Philadelphia, face a slightly brighter picture. On June 18th, City Council passed the Emergency Housing Protection Act, which extends the City’s eviction moratorium through the end of August. It also allows renters to pay rent over an extended year-long repayment plan, and waives late fees on rent during the pandemic. Additionally, it allows renters who are illegally locked out to take legal action to recover damages. This should create a useful disincentive to landlords considering self-help evictions.

As a renter, it is important to understand your rights. First, any evictions taking place in Pennsylvania prior to July 6th are illegal. Second, any evictions that occur without going through proper court proceedings are illegal, regardless of when they take place. So if your landlord changes your locks or shuts off your utilities in order to force you out, that is illegal. Contact the authorities or the appropriate resource listed below for assistance.

Philadelphia Emergency Rental Assistance Program

In early May, Philadelphia launched its Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The program provides rental assistance to families who have lost income due to the pandemic. On July 6th, the program will begin accepting Phase 2 applications. Funds will be awarded on a first come, first served basis. Therefore, it is important that interested renters submit their applications as early as possible on the 6th. Renters may submit applications online, by fax, or by mail.

Renters must meet the following requirements in order to be eligible:

  • Philadelphia resident
  • Lost more than 30% of your income due to reduced work hours/wages because of COVID-19
  • Did not file for unemployment assistance prior to March 1st
  • Household income less than or equal to 100% of area median income ($96,600 for a family of four)

Assistance is limited to $750/mo. Payments will go directly to landlords. Landlords must agree to the terms of the program and provide information in order for renters to receive funds.

Who to Contact for Help

The information above is a brief overview of the protections in place for renters. For more information, or to obtain legal assistance, renters can check out to the following organizations.

As always, M. Zane {+} Associates is here to connect people with solutions. Feel free to contact us for help identifying the right legal solution for your situation.