Governor Wolf extends Pennsylvania’s eviction and foreclosure moratorium
Parts of the state have started emerging from their COVID-19 slumbers, but eviction courts will have to wait until July 10.
It came by way of an executive order from Governor Tom Wolf, using special state of emergency powers, that the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures would be extended another 60 days, to July 10. New evictions will not be able to be filed until July 15.
Until now, Wolf left the moratoriums up to the state Supreme Court, which announced two extensions before his executive order on May 7.
Its final extension was set to expire on May 11.
Wolf appeared alongside Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro when making the announcement.
“We cannot be evicting people and defeat the virus. It’s much easier to wash your hands if you have a sink,” Wolf was quoted in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
These last couple months of quarantine and shutdown of non-essential businesses have done a number on tenants and landlords alike.
For tenants, many are part of the now-1.7 million Pennsylvanians who are out of work because of the shutdown. With no income, the struggle to pay rent is very real.
With no rent, some landlords struggle to pay their mortgages, especially as small-time property owners.
Unfortunately for both, along with Wolf's executive order was also a reinforcement that rents and mortgages would still need to be paid at the end of every month for the duration of the moratorium with late fees and back pay still in effect.
The governor encouraged tenants to work out payment plans with their landlords and landlords with their mortgage providers.\
In the realm of eviction, while landlords can’t formally file them, they can tee them up for filing once the eviction courts reopen. The Inquirer also reported that right now, 1,700 evictions are on the docket for consideration at the time of reopening with landlords “waiting to file thousands more.”
Despite the moratorium extension, there will likely still be growing calls for rent strikes in the city.
Back on April 16, state reps Sara Innamorato, Summer Lee and Elizabeth Felder joined some 300 working-class Pennsylvanians in a virtual town hall calling for rent and mortgage cancellations.
The gathering included both tenants and landlords.
“Our lawmakers need to cancel mortgage payments so landlords can cancel rents,” said Maribel, a member of CASA and small-time landlord.
Councilmember Kendra Brooks’ contribution to Philadelphia City Council’s Emergency Housing Protections Act, while not canceling rent for tenants in the city, would freeze it for the duration of the pandemic and a year after, and waive late fees.
Regardless, Councilmember Helen Gym called the move by Wolf a victory for the city. One of her bills as part of the Emergency Housing Protections Act was to extend the moratorium on evictions for 60 days (which happened).
“I am proud Philadelphia has helped lead on this issue from the beginning,” Gym said in a statement in response to Wolf’s executive order.
This article is part of Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting