Federal eviction moratorium in legal limbo; Pa. tenants and landlords closely watching

Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Evictions could restart after more than a year because a judge said Wednesday that the CDC overstepped its bounds in issuing a moratorium.

But after the U.S. Justice Department filed an emergency appeal, the ruling is on hold for now.

The current evictions ban expires at the end of June.

Renters say they need more time to pay, but landlords say there’s enough help out there for the moratorium to end.

“About 3,100 evictions have been filed in Dauphin County since September 4 when the CDC moratorium started. That’s according to the Unified Judicial System,” said Caleb Cossick, a volunteer with Greater Harrisburg Tenants United.

Cossick estimates as many as a thousand of those could be protected under the federal moratorium, which ends June 30.

“There’s nothing statewide. There’s nothing Dauphin Countywide,” Cossick said. “The Harrisburg city eviction moratorium is set to expire May 13. We do have some meetings scheduled with the Mayor to address that.”

Real estate broker Aaron Piscioneri says the problems stem from the fact that the moratorium isn’t being applied consistently.

“Different district justices have interpreted this differently,” Piscioneri said. “Some people have taken a hard line, no evictions under any circumstances. Others have taken a more nuanced view of it.”

He believes between the stimulus checks and rental assistance, it’s a good thing for the moratorium to be gone.

“It’s good to have the mechanism in place to be able to evict somebody if they’re not working out as a tenant,” Piscioneri said.

But Cossick says if the government doesn’t win this case on appeal, the consequences would be catastrophic for families.

“Hundreds and hundreds of households have applied for emergency rental assistance and are waiting on that,” Cossick said. “So more time is needed to get that money out. They are waiting, and what they’re waiting on is up to 12 months of back rent.”

The judge hasn’t ruled on the merits of the case yet but did give landlords a week, until May 12, to get paperwork filed opposing a longer delay.

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