Bucks County last week announced its plans for the ending of Governor Tom Wolf’s moratorium on rental evicitons which ends July 10.
County officials noted that homelessness right now is 10 percent higher than the same time last year and said last week in advance of the moratorium ending that officials are looking to work with tenants and landlords to prevent those numbers from going any higher.
The executive order, signed by Gov. Wolf on May 7, 2020, suspends evictions and foreclosures until July 10, 2020. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court previously closed court eviction proceedings until May 11, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the suspensions, residents are required to continue making rent or mortgage payments or they may be subjected to past due balances and fees.
Housing and Community Development Director Jeff Fields said his office has been getting questions about the moratorium ending and thought it was a good time to share information and resources with residents who have or are expected to have eviction proceedings filed in the coming days as the restrictions are lifted.
We certainly recognize the challenging days ahead for tenants with paying rent and landlords who have mortgages and expenses associated with the properties they own, said Fields.
No evictions will be taking place until the moratorium ends, Fields said, and the county wants to provide help and resources for tenants and landlords to keep people in their homes and landlords to be compensated through county resources.
Fields first outlined the basics of the eviction process for tenants adding our goal is to work with landlords ahead of time to prevent evictions.
Communicating ahead of time with landlords about potential eviction proceedings is strongly suggested in an effort to perhaps work a payment plan or agreement out, Fields said.
If a landlord does file eviction papers, you will typically have about 21 days before eventually having to leave the unit which also includes a hearing at a local magisterial district court. If rent can’t be paid at that time, typically an order of possession is issued by the judge, said Fields in providing a basic overview of the eviction process.
Renters can call the Bucks County Housing Link if needing support and resources and have important documents ready, such as the lease, proof of income and state issued identification.
Help seekers will be screened with a plan devised by housing counselors including contacting property owners/landlords.
Fields also said renters seeking legal representation can call the Legal Aid Society of Southeastern Pennsylvania to obtain legal representation at 877 429 5994. Their hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Fields, speaking directly to landlords, said it was best to encourage tenants to call so the county can start working with renters immediately, so we can figure out quickly how to avoid an eviction from taking place.
In addition to county help, the Pennsylvania Housing and Finance Agency announced on Monday there are state funds available for those facing housing challenges now and in the coming days.
The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, is a law to help people hurt financially by the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. CARES assistance is now available in Pennsylvania for rent relief and mortgage relief.
The General Assembly directed $175 million of these CARES dollars to PHFA to provide assistance for struggling renters and homeowners. The portion for rent assistance is at least $150 million and $25 million for mortgage assistance.
The application process opens on July 6.
Renters can find applications and additional information here.
Homeowners seeking relief can find applications and important information here