News

October 16, 2020

Gov. Wolf Announces Changes to Rent Relief Program

Gov. Wolf announced a significant change to the CARES Rent Relief Program. Getting landlords to participate in the program has been one of the barriers to the program’s success. Currently, renters only get up to $750 in rental aid and landlords must accept that as payment in full for that month, even if the rent is higher.  This means that landlords are expected to take a potential loss in rental income.

Effective October 17th, for new applicants to the CARES Rent Relief Program, landlords do not have to accept the $750 rent from the program as payment in full.  They can require renters to enter into a payment agreement for the remaining rent.

While we want more landlords to participate, this change does not get at the heart of the issue – renters will not have the income to cover the remaining rent and remain at high-risk for eviction due to nonpayment of rent.  Legislation has been introduced (HB 2868 and SB 1290) to increase the amount of rental assistance, specific to each county’s rental markets that has a much better chance of making landlords whole on rent and will keep renters in their homes. Both pieces of legislation have stalled, leaving thousands of Pennsylvanians at risk of eviction.

According to the Census Household Survey, nearly half a million renter households in Pennsylvania did not pay their rent last month. Take action and urge lawmakers to act on this legislation to fix this program to prevent evictions.

 

Federal

The U.S. Center for Disease Control issued a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the federal eviction moratorium in place until December 31, 2020.  Here are three important clarifications from the FAQ that weaken the order’s ability to protect vulnerable renters:

– Evictions can still be filed and proceedings started.  The renter just cannot be evicted.
– Landlords are not required to make their tenants aware of the eviction moratorium and the declaration they most sign.
– The truthfulness of the declaration renters must attest to and sign can be challenged in any state or municipal court! Renters are protected until the court makes its determination on the truthfulness of the declaration.

 

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