COVID Eviction Pause Update — Check With Your Local Court

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As written here and elsewhere, navigating traditional landlord/tenant legal matters during the past few months has been complicated. Management wants and needs to have compassion for all of our residents who have been impacted by the global pandemic. I know many leasing offices and legal departments have been evaluating hardships and literally working side by side with residents to find solutions to keep Americans in their homes. As a part of that process, the federal government (as well as state, city, and county governments) have paused/halted/ceased eviction actions. There are also provisions to stop utility cutoffs. Other courts permit new filings, but have postponed hearings and/or trials related to those new complaints. As the summer of 2020 continues, however, many of those temporary stops are being lifted. At the same time, we need to ensure that property ownership can pay the mortgage and related bills on our multifamily properties. Which is why I have spoken in support of both eviction and foreclosure assistance.

I have been asked to track down the status for some local courts. My best advice is to check with a lawyer like me to determine if your local court is accepting new cases and what will happen to that new complaint if it is filed. While HUD’s eviction moratorium (for affordable properties) is slated to expire on July 25, 2020, each state (and sometimes each local jurisdiction) has different rules. Some still have a pause in place. Others are permitting new filings. And the rules change – either weekly or daily. For example, the Pennsylvania statewide eviction and foreclosure moratorium, which had been set to expire last week, will now run through August 31, 2020 pursuant to an order from the Governor. Various statewide housing assistance programs are being developed as well.

Some fear there will be a tornado of new filings once the restrictions are lifted. And nobody is exactly sure how local judges are going to deal with all of these new cases. As such, the best play could still be to continue to work with each resident with a COVID medical or economic issue on an individual basis on a payment plan or other solution to avoid the need to file a complaint in what can only be described as uncertain times.

Just A Thought.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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