Pennsylvania AG urges landlords, lenders to be lenient


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Wednesday is the first of the month, which means many unemployed workers don’t have the money to pay their rent or mortgage. However, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro says Pennsylvanians can’t be evicted.

Due to COVID-19, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered courts close eviction proceedings.

Shapiro is currently urging landlords and mortgage lenders to be more lenient.

William Lane lives in an apartment in the city of Harrisburg.

“I was self employed, subcontractor through some restoration companies, but they laid me off like two weeks ago and I’ve got no income coming in at all,” Lane said.

He and his wife are running through their savings to make two car payments and three insurance payments.

“They still want their full rent by today and I just don’t have that money to feed and keep utilities on here,” Lane said.

Shapiro says the order to stop evictions doesn’t absolve people from eventually paying rent.

“What we’re doing though is making sure that there is this buffer, there is this moment of security that tenants can feel during this challenging time to know that they’re not going to lose the roof over their head as we deal with this pandemic,” Shapiro said.

One of the organizations he called on, the Pennsylvania Apartment Association (PAA), responded to Shapiro by recommending the following policies:

  • Extend grace periods for late payments and waive late fees for residents that have
    provided documentation of financial hardship or loss of employment related to the
    COVID-19 crisis
  • Create payment plans for residents, including those who had previously outstanding
    eviction balances and put the plan in writing
  • Prior to the PA Supreme Court ruling regarding a stay on evictions until April 3, 2020
    PAA recommended members halt all new eviction filings related to nonpayment until
    after April 30, 2020. PAA will continue to monitor the state and local laws and revise
    the current recommendation regarding evictions as appropriate.
  • Identify resources available to residents through government and community

“That means a lot, not just to me and my office, but it means a lot to the people of Pennsylvania who find themselves in these type of rental situations,” Shapiro said.

It’s some comfort for Lane, but he still worries about what the future holds.

“When this is all over with, they’re still going to charge me for all the months that I didn’t pay plus interest and there’s no way I’m going to be able to do that,” Lane said. I’m going to be in a bigger hole and probably going to have to file bankruptcy.”

The PAA says it’s important to pay your rent on time if you can do so. The association says its members rely on rental payments to pay their teams and cover expenses. If payments stop altogether, the association says community stability and safety will be disrupted.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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