Pennsylvania Evictions Stayed until July 10, 2020


Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently signed an executive order extending the statewide moratorium (stay) on evictions and foreclosures through July 10, 2020. The Order provides continued protection for many renters who have been financially stunned by the COVID-19 crisis and risk being evicted for failure to pay rent. On the other side of the coin, landlords are also feeling the strain as a growing percentage of their properties sit occupied but produce no income because of unpaid rents and stays on evictions. Many landlords are asking when they can start eviction actions to keep their property rental businesses afloat, seeking payment of unpaid rents and/or tenant removal.

The relevant part of Governor Wolf’s Order staying evictions as it relates to the Landlord and Tenant Act is below in Section 2. Section 2 “stays” the notice requirements under the Act until July 10, tolling the ability to commence the timelines necessary for the initiation of eviction proceedings. In other words, all new eviction timelines must be computed with a start date of July 10, 2020. Also, any previously sent/posted eviction notices will be deemed delivered on the July 10th date, at that point the timeline will begin, and the normal course of action is to be followed under the Act. In theory, eviction notices can still be sent/posted during the stay period becoming effective July 10, giving early warning to tenants of their rental obligations, and allowing landlords to attempt out-of-court resolutions.

What about my local Court’s Order setting an earlier date to commence eviction actions?

The Governor’s Executive Order overrules the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s and Courts of Common Pleas’ previous orders regarding timelines for staying evictions. Wolf’s previous Executive Orders have been challenged as violations of his power as Governor, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a King’s Bench opinion recently upheld his previous Executive Orders citing the Pennsylvania Emergency Code. Passed in 1977, Pennsylvania’s Emergency Code vests the Governor with broad power to administer management authority when the Commonwealth has declared a state of emergency. Thus, Governor Wolf’s current stipulations on evictions are to be followed, even if your local Courts previously stated otherwise.

Impact

In the days following July 10, a surge of eviction proceedings will likely overwhelm the courts. To help prevent further delay and headache, many courts recommend landlords and tenants work on an agreement outside of court, if possible. Eviction proceedings before COVID-19 took an average of six weeks to complete, but after lifting stays on July 10th, crowded courts will likely make these proceedings much longer.

Landlords and tenants should continue to monitor the Governor’s website for developments in this matter: https://www.governor.pa.gov/.

Order:
“Section 1:
Commencing on May 11, 2020, the notice requirements mandated by Act 6 and Act 91 are stayed for 60 days, thereby tolling the ability to commence the timelines and necessary Act 6 and Act 91 compliance that must be satisfied prior to the initiation of foreclosure actions. All foreclosures requiring compliance with Act 6 and Act 91 cannot commence for 60 days until July 10, 2020. All foreclosure timelines must be computed with a start date of July 10, 2020, at which point any previously delivered Act 6 and Act 91 notices will be deemed delivered and any foreclosure process may commence. The foreclosure actions requiring Act 6 and 91 compliance may proceed from that point forward in the normal course of action.”

“Section 2:

Commencing on May 11, 2020, the notice requirements mandated by the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 and the Manufactured Home Community Rights Act are stayed for 60 days, thereby tolling the ability to commence the timelines necessary for the initiation of eviction proceedings. All eviction proceedings requiring compliance with the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 and the Manufactured Home Community Rights Act cannot commence for 60 days until July 10, 2020. All eviction timelines must be computed with a start date of July 10, 2020, at which point any previously delivered Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 and Manufactured Home Community Rights Act notices will be deemed delivered and any eviction proceedings may commence. The eviction proceedings requiring compliance with the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 and the Manufactured Home Community Rights Act may proceed from that point forward in the normal course of action.”
Link: https://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/20200507-TWW-dispossession-of-property-order.pdf