The Year-End Pandemic Relief Bill – More Delay for Landlords

Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC
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On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the COVID-19 relief bill that Congress passed the week before. This stimulus package impacts landlords in two important ways.

Eviction Moratorium

First, the relief bill extends the current CDC eviction moratorium from December 31, 2020 until January 31, 2021. This means that landlords cannot evict tenants for nonpayment of rent who have provided, or provide before the possession turnover, a CDC declaration. This bill does not make any changes to the requirements for the declaration. Rather, it merely extended the moratorium.

Rental Assistance Program

Second, the relief bill provides an additional $25 billion to help individuals and families with rent and utility payments. The assistance is intended to assist with current rent and utility bills, rent and utility bills that have accumulated since the beginning of the pandemic, and other housing expenses incurred as a result of the pandemic.

Unlike the rental assistance under the CARES Act, under this bill, a household is entitled to receive 12 months of assistance. If funds remain available, a household may apply for up to three additional months of assistance if necessary to ensure housing stability.

The stimulus package assistance is available to renter households that:

  1. Have a household income of not more than 80% of the area median income, which must be recertified every three months while the household receives assistance;
  2. Have one or more household members who can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability in the absence of the rental assistance; and
  3. Have one or more household members who qualify for unemployment benefits or who have experienced financial hardship caused by the pandemic.

Similar to the CARES Act, financial assistance under the new stimulus package will be managed and distributed by entities designated by state and local authorities. Also, as with CARES Act, landlords are not required to participate in the assistance program. If a landlord does choose to participate, the assistance payment will be made directly to the landlord.

However, unlike the CARES Act program, if a landlord decides that it does not want to participate in the assistance program, its tenant(s) may still receive assistance, and the payments will be made directly to them.

We will continue to monitor the federal government’s actions regarding the CDC eviction moratorium and provide updated information when available.

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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