Philadelphia City Council Passes “Emergency Housing Protection Act”

Last week, Philadelphia City Council passed the Emergency Housing Protection Act (“EHPA”), a series of 5 bills designed to prevent or postpone evictions in Philadelphia.

The state directive staying the commencement of all eviction proceedings in Pennsylvania is scheduled to expire on July 10, 2020.

EHPA, which is expected to be signed into law by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, will extend that moratorium at least through August 31, 2020 as well as provide additional protections for tenants in Philadelphia.

The bills which comprise the EHPA are:

  • Bill Number 200295 extends the eviction moratorium through August 31, 2020 for residential tenants as well as small businesses which provide the landlord with a certification of hardship due to Covid-19.  The bill defines small businesses as “[a] person that employs fewer than 100 total employees, wherever located, whether within the City of Philadelphia or elsewhere”.  The bill provides an exception to allow an eviction “to cease or prevent an imminent threat of harm by the person being evicted, including physical harm or harassment”.  Likewise, during this time period, landlords are prevented from taking steps to regain possession of a property.
  • Bill Number 200305 provides residential tenants who provide a certification of Covid-19-related financial hardship and proof of income loss or increased expenses the right to enter into 9-month payment plans with their landlords to pay delinquent rent over that extended period.  The 9-month period of repayment would begin after the last day of the Covid-19 emergency period which is presumed to be August 31st.  The law forbids landlords from reducing such an agreement for a payment plan to a judgment by agreement, consent order, a consent judgment, or similar court order. Also, the landlord is prohibited from commencing eviction proceedings during the nine-month period unless the tenant fails to pay ongoing rent during that period or misses 4 installments of the back rent. 
  • Bill No. 200294 creates a mandatory residential eviction diversion program that runs through December 31, 2020, requiring both landlords and residential tenants who have experienced Covid-19-related financial hardships to participate in a mediation process designed to help resolve issues before they lead to formal evictions.
  • Bill No. 200302 waives late fees on rent for residential tenants from the beginning of the pandemic until 9 months after the end of Covid-19 emergency period for those tenants experiencing Covid-19-related financial hardship.
  • Bill No. 200304 provides a private cause of action for tenants who have been illegally locked out to sue their landlords and recover damages caused by the illegal lockout, as well as attorney’s fees and punitive damages of $2,000 per violation. 

If you have any question about the EHPA or require assistance with any legal matter as a result of the pandemic, we are offering consultations at no cost. To learn more, please visit http://covid19.nochumson.com/. We look forward to helping you and your business.

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