By: Alisa N. Carr. Esq.
On August 31, 2020, President Judge Clark issued an Order that permits the filing of new residential landlord tenant cases, but also establishes a procedure for Tenants to apply for rental assistance. Pending any overriding action by Governor Wolf or the Pennsylvania Legislature, the current Order provides, in part:
- Effective September 1, 2020, all residential landlord tenant actions will be accepted in Allegheny County pursuant to the applicable statutes and rules.
- Initial hearing dates for residential landlord tenant actions filed at the Magisterial District Courts where the action is based solely on nonpayment of rent shall be scheduled at the latest available landlord tenant court date consistent with Pa.R.C.P.M.D.J. 504 (15 days) and may be scheduled up to seven (7) days beyond the time limit set forth in Rule 504, if the Magisterial District Judge finds it necessary due to the volume of cases already scheduled.
- On such cases, if on or before the initial hearing date, the tenant provides an affidavit or testifies under oath affirming that the tenant has submitted or will submit an application for rental assistance under the CARES Rent Relief Program or any of the other available rental assistance programs, the initial hearing date shall be used to conduct a status conference rather than a hearing. During this status conference, the CARES Rent Relief Program or other program shall be considered by the parties who shall determine if they will move forward with an application.
- If both parties agree to move forward with an application through the CARES Rent Relief Program or other available rental assistance program, the hearing shall be continued to allow for sufficient time for the application to be processed as agreed to by the parties and the Magisterial District Judge. Multiple continuances may be granted so there is sufficient time for the application to be processed and the relief to be provided. A hearing shall not occur until the application has either been granted, denied or withdrawn.
- If, during the status conference, the parties do not both agree to move forward with an application, the case may be postponed to a new date for a hearing on the matter or the Magisterial District Judge may, in his or her discretion, continue the hearing to allow for an application to be made and processed.
CARES Rent Relief Program – Key Facts
Who can apply:
- Renters who have experienced job loss or a reduction in annual income due to COVID-19
- Landlords who have lost rental income because a renter has experienced job loss or a reduction in income as a result of COVID-19
How do renter’s qualify?
- Renter’s income may not exceed the Area Median Income for Allegheny County(and adjusted for the number of people in the household).
- Renter must document at least a 30% reduction in income since March 1, 2020, due to COVID-19; OR
- Renter must have become unemployed, as verified by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, after March 1, 2020 as a result of COVID-19.
What assistance is provided?
- Up to $750/month per household in state-funded rental assistance;
- Up to $750/month per household in Allegheny County-funded rental assistance
- Up to $200/month per household in County funding to cover additional household costs for gas, electric, and/or internet; late fees charged by the landlord and/or utility company; and/or court costs
- Payments will be made directly to the landlord and utility companies on behalf of the renter for a maximum of six months of assistance between March 1 and November 30, 2020 (may include December rent).
- Application Deadline – September 30, 2020
- Funding will be received by – November 30, 2020
- Funding can be used to pay rent from March 1, 2020 – December 2020
These new rules only apply to residential properties and when eviction is based upon non-payment of rent, not when a Tenant has otherwise breached the Lease or failed to vacate at the end of the term.
If you have questions contact Alisa N. Carr. Alisa is a Partner in Leech Tishman’s Litigation, Real Estate and Energy Practice Groups and represents residential and commercial landlords. Alisa is based in the Pittsburgh office and can be reached at 412.261.1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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