At Fetch Home Management, we know that these are uncertain and unprecedented times for our owners, tenants, and community partners. We hope you are weathering the storm as well as you can, and that you’re remaining safe and healthy.
With the Pennsylvania Supreme Court halting evictions and foreclosures last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had a lot of questions about what this means when you’re renting out a Lancaster investment property. We’re providing as much information and support as we can, but please remember that things are changing on a nearly daily basis. For specific questions or information relating to your own rental property, please contact us to discuss your concerns.
Pennsylvania Eviction Ban Until April 30
An eviction ban is pretty self-explanatory. If your tenant is not paying rent, you cannot evict that tenant right now. This is supported not only by the state’s Supreme Court ruling, but also by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which prevents evictions on homes that are rented out by landlords who have a federally backed mortgage.
The current deadline for the eviction moratorium is April 30, extended from the initial April 3 date.
This ban on eviction doesn’t mean you can’t assess late fees for any rent payments that aren’t made. You can even still send a Three Day Pay or Quit notice or other default notices. This will put you towards the front of the line once the court system re-opens and pending cases are heard.
The ban simply means that you cannot file any new eviction complaints in court until April 30.
CARES Act Provides Additional Eviction Protection
Some Lancaster property managers and landlords may not be able to move forward with an eviction even after the ban ends on April 30. That’s because the CARES Act extends a moratorium on evictions for 120 days if you are a landlord who is receiving a forbearance on a federally backed mortgage. If your loan is insured by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, you have mortgage relief options. That means, your tenant is protected from eviction for nonpayment of rent. It also means you cannot charge any late fees or penalties, unlike the protections provided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Working with Your Lancaster Tenants
Not having your rent paid can feel unsettling and unstable. However, since you are likely not going to be able to evict your tenants who cannot pay, we recommend that you work with them. Many of your residents may have lost jobs or seen their hours and pay dramatically cut in the wake of this emergency. However, unemployment benefits have been extended and most taxpayers can expect a stimulus check in the next few weeks.
Talk to your tenants about what they can pay and what they have planned for meeting their rental payment obligations. They probably know their rights, so threatening or browbeating them is definitely not the way to go. We also recommend that you try to keep your tenants in place. Finding new tenants with stable jobs who can pay rent consistently is not going to be easy in this economic climate.
You can still expect your tenants to follow their terms of the lease agreement and keep in contact with you. The eviction moratorium does not change that. To hear more about what we’d recommend for Lancaster rental property owners, please contact us at Fetch Home Management. We’re here to be your Lancaster property management resource.