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COVID-19 Information for Pennsylvania

The purpose of this page is to provide apartment industry professionals with an overview of the issues affecting our industry with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. The page is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute, and should not be construed as, legal advice. This resource is not intended to provide a mandatory standard of care for the industry.

State and Local Affiliates

Please remember to use your state or local apartment association as the primary resource for the most up-to-date information on your responsibilities. Find your local affiliate.

We highly suggest you contact a local attorney before you decide to initiate an eviction action against a resident in the current environment as overlaying federal, state and county laws or restrictions on the judicial process may apply. This includes: issuing a notice to vacate, initiating any eviction-related action, or assessing fees or penalties on residents for nonpayment of rent or other lease violations. In addition to the below, you can access NAA's statutory information on late fees, eviction laws and other policy issues.

Reopening Order

All Pennsylvania counties are in the green phase of reopening. Under the green phase, all businesses may resume operation with limited capacity and health/safety requirements. 

Face Mask Mandate

Governor Tom Wolf announced a new order that outlines the situations when a mask must be worn and includes limited exceptions to the face-covering requirement. Notably, pursuant to the order, masks must be worn whenever anyone leaves home. The order takes effect immediately

State of Emergency 

Governor Tom Wolf declared a state of emergency on March 6, 2020.

Eviction

Status: Eviction Cases May Resume

Executive Order (Expired)

  • Action: On May 7, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the signing of an executive order that prohibits foreclosures and evictions through August 31, 2020.
  • Scope: Prohibits the filing of eviction notices for nonpayment of rent. All timelines for ongoing cases must be computed with a start date of August 31, 2020 and may commence after that date. 
  • COVID-19 Related Impact Requirement: No.
  • Residents Responsible for Rent: Yes.

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

Pennsylvania’s rental assistance program comes in the form of a change to the state’s fiscal code, which now allocates $150 million for renters. Both residents and housing providers seeking funds on behalf of residents have until Sept. 30 to apply.

Eligible residents must have lost their jobs after March 1 or had their household income reduced by at least 30% due to reduced wages because of the pandemic. The state will pay up to $750 per month for six months to households that earn no more than the area median income, which is $96,600 for a family of four in the Philadelphia region. The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency will run the program and will release additional details by the end of this month.

Rent Freeze

No rent freeze is in effect at the state or local level. Pennsylvania is a Dillon’s rule state, meaning all authorities granted to local government are determined by the state government. See American Legislative Exchange Council for more details.

Price-Gouging Law

Under Pennsylvania Code § 232.4, it is unlawful to sell or offer goods and services at an unconscionably excessive price. Excessive pricing is determined if the price of a good or service is in excess of 20 percent of its average price immediately prior to the declaration of emergency. The language of this statute holds during a declaration of emergency and 30 days following its termination.

Local Legal and Regulatory Information

Allegheny County 

Eviction 

Allegheny County President Judge Kim Clark declared a judicial emergency for the Fifth Judicial District of Allegheny County. The order halts almost all criminal and civil proceedings through June 1, 2020, which means a county-wide moratorium on evictions. 
 
The stay does not apply to situations in which public health is threatened, said Michelle Sandidge, chief community affairs officer for the city’s Housing Authority.
 

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Allentown

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

Allentown recently set aside $400,000 to help low-income residents, impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, pay rent. While the funds were made available on Friday, May 1, the response was so "overwhelming," the program was closed after one day.

The program may only be able to service about 185 applicants, but the City is currently searching for more funding sources and creative ways to help at-risk residents pay rent during the pandemic.

The rental assistance program was funded with money the City received as part of economic relief provided by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

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Philadelphia 

Eviction

Bill No. 200295

  • Action: Implements an eviction moratorium through August 31, 2020.
  • Scope: Prohibits any actions to recover possession of a rental unit, with the exception of actions to “cease or prevent an imminent threat of harm by the person being evicted, including physical harm or harassment.”
  • COVID-19 Financial Hardship Requirement: Resident or “individual with personal knowledge” must certify hardship due to COVID-19, stating at a minimum that the resident has lost any level of income due to COVID-19 and outlining facts that provide an explanation of the hardship experienced.
  • Residents Responsible for Rent: Yes

FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF PHILADELPHIA COUNTY PHILADELPHIA MUNICIPAL COURT – President Judge Administrative Order NO. 44 of 2020.

  • Action: Order postponing landlord/tenant cases currently scheduled to be heard by the Municipal court from July 6, 2020 to September 2, 2020 until further order from the court. New eviction filings will be accepted beginning on July 10, 2020 but will not be scheduled for a hearing until further order from the court. The issuance and service of writs of possession is stayed until further order.
  • COVID-19 Financial Impact Requirement: No.
  • Residents Responsible for Rent: Yes.

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

Philadelphia has launched an emergency rental assistance program that the city hopes will keep at least 3,000 families in their homes during the COVID-19 crisis.

Funding is now available through a Community Development Block Grant – or CDBG – provided under the federal CARES Act. Enough funding is available to serve at least 3,000 eligible households for three consecutive months.

To be eligible for assistance, renters must:

  • Rent an apartment or house in Philadelphia
  • Have a valid and current written lease signed by landlord
  • Have lost income because of COVID-19

Renters do not have to have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to be eligible.

Assistance is limited to renters whose households earn 50% or less of the area median income based on the size of their household, as established by the CDBG. By household size, that limit is as follows:

  • 1 person: $33,850 per year
  • 2 people: $38,650 per year
  • 3 people: $43,500 per year
  • 4 people: $48,300 per year
  • 5 people: $52,200 per year
  • 6 people: $56,050 per year
  • 7 people: $59,900 per year
  • 8 people: $63,800 per year

Income guidelines apply to household income before the COVID-19 related income loss.

All of these required documents are available to fill out through the PHLRentAssist.org website when the application period opened on May 12.

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Pittsburgh

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh’s (URA) Board of Directors approved a new program for households at or below 80% Area Median Income (AMI) who have been affected by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Housing Stabilization Fund is designed to provide short-term assistance to workers who have experienced a reduction in hours and are facing a financial hardship to pay rent and utilities. 

Beginning March 23, 2020, households in need of rental, mortgage payment, and/or utility assistance, specifically because their work hours were cut due to COVID-19, may call the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh at (412) 227-4163 to be screened for assistance. 

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