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Governor Wolf Allows for In-Person Real Estate Activities in Pennsylvania to Occur with Restrictions

May 20, 2020

Yesterday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that, effective immediately, all real estate professionals in Pennsylvania may conduct business-related activities, subject to safety and social distancing restrictions. 

Governor Wolf also issued guidance which requires real estate businesses and employees to follow all applicable provisions of the Guidance for Businesses Permitted to Operate During the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency to Ensure the Safety and Health of Employees and the Public, which includes provisions requiring that every person present at a work site, business location, or property offered for sale, wear masks/face coverings, and provisions requiring the establishment of protocols for execution upon discovery that the business or employee has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Where real estate businesses can conduct operations by telework, they must continue to do so.

All in-person activities, including office visits, property showings, appraisals, inspections, final walk-throughs, and title insurance activities should be scheduled in advance and limited to no more than the real estate professional and 2 people inside a property at any given time, exercising appropriate social distancing. 

Records of all appointments are required to be maintained, including contact information for all participants.

Real estate closings should be conducted utilizing remote notary, powers of attorney or the exchange of contract documents electronically or by mail wherever possible. Where it is not possible to conduct a real estate closing via remote notary or a power of attorney, attendance in-person must be limited to required signatories and their legal counsel or real estate professional only, and steps to preserve social distancing must be followed to the maximum extent possible.

Advance copies of documents should be provided for review prior to the settlement date, wherever possible.

All businesses and employees in the real estate industry authorized to conduct in-person activities are prohibited from providing food during in-person activities and conducting in-person group showings for either potential buyers or real estate professionals, including open houses, broker opens or office tours.

Businesses and employees are also encouraged to minimize in-person activities and attendance to only the most critical individuals, while maintaining social distancing in all in-person interactions, provide sellers with relevant safety information and protocols for cleaning and sanitizing properties; utilize electronic marketing as much as possible, including virtual tours, virtual showings and virtual open houses. provide all individuals at an in-person activity with a verbal health screening, stagger scheduling of property showings, avoid physical contact with the property by staging in advance to prevent the need for interaction with items like lights, interior doors, drapes and blinds; and minimize time spent in the property by having discussions away from the property via remote means.

If you have a question about the newly issued rules and regulations as it pertains to real estate activities in Pennsylvania, please feel free to contact us at contact@nochumson.com and an attorney at Nochumson P.C. will immediately reach out to you to schedule a free consultation.

SBA Releases Loan Forgiveness Application and Clarifies the Good Faith Certification Requirement under the Paycheck Protection Program

May 18, 2020

On Friday, May 15, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released the application borrowers of a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) must use to determine the amount of the loan that may be “forgiven” by their lender.

Only those expenses paid or incurred within the 8-week period after receiving the loan are eligible for forgiveness.  In other words, costs are eligible for forgiveness if they were incurred during the 8-week period but will be paid later or paid during the 8-week period for expenses incurred before the 8-week period. 

A business which obtains a loan under PPP may have some or all the loan forgiven as long as the business continues paying their employees at normal levels or rehires laid-off or furloughed employees during the 8 weeks following the origination of the loan. 

If an offer to rehire an employee is turned down by that employee, the employee will be excluded from the loan forgiveness reduction calculation under PPP.  In order to qualify for the loan, the business must make a good faith, written offer of rehire, and the employee’s rejection of that offer must also be in writing. 

Payroll costs are considered incurred on the day they are earned but are eligible for forgiveness so long as they are paid no later than the next regular payroll date after the 8-week period.  Likewise, salaries paid during the 8-week period that had been earned by employees for previous weeks are eligible for forgiveness.

For non-payroll costs such as mortgage interest, rent and utilities, to qualify for forgiveness, these expenses must either be: (1) paid during the 8-week covered period, or (2) incurred during the 8-week period, and paid by its next regular due date, even if that due date is outside the 8-week period.  Likewise, payments made during the 8-week period are eligible for forgiveness if they were made for periods prior to the 8-week period. 

All loan recipients must certify that “current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.”  However, for those who received loans of less than $2 million, the SBA is providing a “safe harbor” in that those borrowers will be deemed to have made the required certification that the loan was necessary in good faith, and will not be subject to the same additional scrutiny and an audit from the SBA that borrowers of loan amounts in excess of $2 million will face. 

If you have any question about loan forgiveness under the PPP, please feel free to contact us at contact@nochumson.com and an attorney at Nochumson P.C. will immediately reach out to you to schedule a free consultation.

City Government Extends Allowable Hours of Construction in Philly

May 15, 2020

On May 1, 2020, construction activities were allowed to resume in Pennsylvania, subject to strict adherence to certain safety and social distancing guidelines.  Subsequently, the City of Philadelphia imposed more stringent requirements on construction taking place within city limits. 

One of the requirements, a restriction on hours of work, was relaxed this week. 

Specifically, the restriction that construction only take place from Mondays through Fridays between the hours of 7:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. was modified to apply only to single and two-family residential projects.  Construction on commercial and larger residential construction projects may now take place during regular construction hours, which are Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. 

All other restrictions remain in place, including that construction only take place on projects for which either a demolition or building permit was issued on or before March 20, 2020, as well as a prohibition on the following: construction on the interior of residential structures or in common areas of multi-family buildings, except emergency repairs; underpinning work; demolition of attached structures; and projects that require the support of an existing party wall unless written authorization is given by the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections (“L&I”). 

Additionally, a Pandemic Safety Officer is required for each job site in Philadelphia and must obtain a Covid-19 training certificate from one of the training sources designated by L&I on its website.  The Pandemic Safety Officer is responsible for conveying, implementing, and enforcing the masking, social distancing, sanitization, and other requirements for the protection of employees, suppliers, and other personnel at the job site.  A Covid-19 Safety Plan must be maintained at every job site and should outline the site’s plans for complying with all applicable orders and guidance and educating workers on safety precautions and measures to mitigate the risk of spreading Covid-19.  Such a plan should be available to be produced upon request by L&I.  

Violation of the restrictions could result in issuance of violation notices, Stop Work Orders, imposition of fines, the revocation or suspension of licenses, “and any other remedies”. 

If you have questions about guidelines for construction activities in Philadelphia, please feel free to contact us at contact@nochumson.com and an attorney at Nochumson P.C. will immediately reach out to you to schedule a free consultation.

Real Estate Divorces during COVID-19 Pandemic

May 14, 2020

With more and more unmarried couples living together feeling the financial and emotional stress during these unprecedented times, you will see some of them break up.

In this podcast, Alan Nochumson discusses many of the pitfalls they encounter when attempting to consummate a real estate divorce, especially when they cannot agree on how their property can and should be sold.

Listen on Apple Podcast.

The City of Philadelphia Launches COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program

May 12, 2020

Row houses in Spring Garden, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Beginning today, the City of Philadelphia is launching the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (“ERAP”) to assist some tenants who have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic make their rental payments.  

The City will begin accepting applications under ERAP at 10:00 a.m. today and through Saturday, May 16, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. 

Tenants approved under ERAP will initially receive rental assistance from the City for up to 3 consecutive months for up to a total of $2,500. 

Subsequent to the first 3-month period of time, the tenant’s situation will be reevaluated by the City every 3 months thereafter and, depending on the tenant’s situation and the City’s funding, the tenant may receive additional assistance under ERAP for 3, 6, or 9 months.

Payments under ERAP will be made directly to the landlord. 

To be eligible for this governmental program, a tenant must rent an apartment unit or house in Philadelphia pursuant to a current written lease signed by a landlord and the tenant must have suffered a loss in income due to Covid-19. 

Under ERAP, the tenant also must meet certain maximum pre-pandemic income guidelines, i.e., a single individual can have no greater than a maximum annual household income of $33,850 and a family of 4 can have no greater than a maximum annual household income of $48,300.   

Tenants who live in public housing, receive other forms of governmental rental assistance, have unpaid rent from before April, or are in the process of being evicted will not be eligible for assistance under ERAP. 

Under ERAP, the applicant must submit a copy of the lease and proof of income loss for all adult members of the household. 

Additionally, the applicant’s landlord must have a rental license and be current on taxes owed to the City.  If necessary, the landlord will be given a week to remedy any such issues with the City. 

The landlord must also agree to accept the rental payment from the City under ERAP, not pursue eviction for non-payment of rent while receiving such payments and for 6 months after the final payment from the City, waive any late fees or penalties for rent not paid in April and May, and allow the tenant 6 months after the final payment from the City to repay any missed rental payments from April and for the period while the City was paying rental assistance.

If you have a question about ERAP, please feel free to contact us at contact@nochumson.com and an attorney at Nochumson P.C. will immediately reach out to you to schedule a free consultation.