Tag Archives: residential

COVID-19: NJ updates its Moratorium on Residential Utilities and their ability to pursue Non-Payment

Last week, NJ updated its guidance on COVID-19 related charges for most utilities in Executive Order 190.

Water, Gas, and Electricity:

No household may have its electricity, gas service, or water service shut off for nonpayment. This moratorium on utility shutoffs is extended to at least March 15, 2021 and applies to all residential gas, electric and water utilities, both public and private.

If there is any customer whose service has been disconnected since March 16, 2020, their service must be reconnected.

In addition, utilities will not be charging late fees nor fees to reconnect services that have been disconnected.

Although utility service shutoffs are still suspended, customers are still encouraged to set up payment plans with their utilities so they can begin paying their bills, if they are able, over a period of time.

According to NJ State published information on line, if you are struggling to pay your utility bills, contact your utility company about assistance programs and payment plans, or visit BPU’s “Assistance Programs” page for information about programs that can help.

Note: For any questions about your service, first contact your utility company. A list of public gas and electricity utility company phone numbers is available here.

If you are unable to resolve an issue with your utility company, you should contact BPU’s Customer Assistance team by filling out this online form, or by calling (800) 624-0241 and leaving a voicemail.

Phone and Internet:

No cable or telecommunications provider that provides residential internet and voice services to New Jersey residents shall terminate these services due to nonpayment before November 15.

After November 15, cable and telecommunications providers are required to enroll customers with an already existing account in an interest free payment plan of at least 12 equal monthly installments, including the balance already due, prior to disconnecting the customers service.

For households with school-age children who need Internet connectivity for remote-learning, Internet shutoffs will not be permitted through March 15, 2021. If a household experiences a change of circumstances where school age children will be using their home Internet service for school, the cable and telecommunications company will be required to reconnect that Internet service.

Source: Executive Order No. 190

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Elizabeth Mincer, Paul Josephson, Matthew LoBello or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

COVID-19: NJ HMFA provides Small Landlord Emergency Grant availability for COVID-19 Impact – Round 2 Funding

Earlier this morning on 9-29-20, the New Jersey Housing Mortgage and Finance Agency (NJHMFA) announced the expansion and reopening of its Small Landlord Emergency Grant (SLEG) Program to assist vulnerable renters across NJ by covering their missed rent from April through July 2020.

The program will reopen today, Monday, September 28th, at noon and will run until Tuesday, October 13th at 4:00 p.m.

NJHMFA developed the SLEG Program to reimburse small landlords for missed or reduced rent payments between April 2020 and July 2020 due to COVID-19. Landlords approved for a grant must forgive any back rent or late fees incurred by their tenants.

“Since April, New Jersey landlords have filed 30,000 eviction cases in Landlord-Tenant court. Although Governor Murphy has enacted an eviction moratorium to protect residents from being locked out of their homes for nonpayment of rent, this alarming number demonstrates that many New Jerseyans are struggling to pay rent,” said Charles A. Richman, Executive Director of New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. “Our goal with the SLEG Program is to mitigate hardship for as many landlords and tenants as possible in the current economic crisis. To this end, we have made some small but significant adjustments to the program to increase both eligibility and accessibility. Not only will we reach more renters in need, but we have also removed some of the barriers for landlords to apply.”

To be eligible for the 2nd round of the SLEG Program:

1. Applicants must own a residential property in New Jersey with 3 to 30 rental units;

2. Applicants must be registered with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Bureau of Housing Inspection;

3. The property must not be a seasonal or vacation rental property;

4. The property must have at least one non-vacant rental unit impacted by COVID-19 between April and July 2020;

5. The property must have low-to-moderate income rent levels.

$15 million in CARES Act funding has been allocated to fund the first and second rounds of the SLEG Program.

All completed eligible applications will be randomly sorted by computer to give each applicant an equal chance of being funded. Grant funding will be allocated on a case-by-case basis, based on the number of COVID-impacted units and the amount of missed rent. A list of all successful landlord applicants will be posted to the NJHMFA website, and letters will be sent to all tenants of awarded landlords.

There are a range of tools available on NJHMFA’s website to assist property owners in preparing their applications. These include an application checklist, an annotated application with sample answers, and a Frequently Asked Questions list.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Elizabeth Mincer, Matthew LoBello or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

COVID-19: Philadelphia Extends Residential Eviction Moratorium through March 15, 2021

As of 7-31-20, Philadelphia City officials have extended the City’s residential eviction moratorium in Philadelphia until March 15, 2021.

According to reporting from CBS 3, the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) said it wants the city’s 80,000 low-income residents who have been “disproportionately impacted” by the pandemic to be assured their housing will not be a concern for the rest of the uncertainty.

“The federal eviction moratorium expires this week. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has extended it to the end of August, while the Congress and the Trump Administration debate another extension. I wanted to take bold action in this regard, to maintain housing stability for our residents,” PHA President Kelvin Jeremiah said.

According to Jeremiah, the moratorium applies only to “matters involving the nonpayment of rent and related fees,” but doesn’t apply to evictions related to health and safety.

The moratorium does not forgive nonpayment of rent and fees during the period, the PHA said, and tenants remain responsible for rent under the terms of their lease agreement.

Philadelphians who cannot pay their rent or have a financial hardship are urged to apply for a PHA Hardship Waiver or look into payment plans.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Elizabeth Mincer, David Augustin or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

 

COVID-19: PA Extends Eviction and Moratorium Protections through July 10th for Residential Transactions

Governor Tom Wolf was joined by Attorney General Josh Shapiro to announce that he signed an executive order that protects Pennsylvanians from foreclosures or evictions through July 10. The action builds on a Pennsylvania Supreme Court order which closed court eviction proceedings until May 11 and ensures no renter or homeowner will be removed from their home for 60 more days.

“At a time when people need to stay home to protect their heath, they should not have to worry about losing their homes,” said Governor Wolf. “Ensuring that people can remain in their homes will help them to better protect their loved ones. It gives families the comfort of knowing they will have a place to live while all of us work together to fight COVID-19 and prepare to move Pennsylvania forward.”

In almost all circumstances, renters and homeowners are required to continue making monthly payments.

The Wolf Administration provided recommendations last week to stem foreclosures, evictions and help people experiencing homelessness. The Department of Human Services activated the Commonwealth’s Sheltering Taskforce and is working with local and state partners to coordinate resources for people without housing. The Department of Community and Economic Development is also accepting applications for Emergency Solutions Grants to assist with the rapid rehousing of people experiencing homelessness, street outreach, homelessness prevention, and emergency shelter activities.

PHFA is also taking action to help homeowners and renters. The agency has stopped foreclosures and evictions and is offering forbearances with late fee waivers to homeowners with a PHFA mortgage who are experiencing a financial hardship because of COVID-19. PHFA also developed a list of renters’ rights and responsibilities to clarify the situation for apartment residents and is working with landlords and property managers to distribute it to renters. PHFA is also encouraging Low-Income Housing Tax Credit building managers to be flexible on rent payments and to waive late fees for tenants whose employment has been affected by the crisis. 

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For Further Information:

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, David Augustin or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!

COVID-19: Maryland issues Executive Order Temporarily Halting Residential and Commercial Evictions

Maryland Governor Lawrence J. Hogan issued Order Number 20-04-03-01 on April 3, 2020 (the “Order”) that amends and restates an order previously issued on March 16, 2020 that, among other things, temporarily prohibits evictions of tenants suffering substantial loss of income due to COVID-19. The Order expands the coverage of the original order to temporarily prohibit commercial and industrial evictions.

The Order applies to Section 8—401 of the Real Property Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland (the “Real Property Article”) (i.e. repossession following failure to pay rent when due and payable) and Section 8-402.1 of the Real Property Article (i.e. proceedings upon breach of lease) and provides that:

“No court shall give any judgment for possession or repossession, or warrant for restitution of possession or repossession of residential, commercial, or industrial real property, if the tenant can demonstrate to the court, through documentation or other objectively verifiable means, that the tenant suffered a Substantial Loss of Income.”

Under the Order “Substantial Loss of Income” is defined as:

“Substantial Loss of Income” means (i) with respect to an individual, a substantial loss of income resulting from COVID-19 or the related proclamation of a state of emergency and catastrophic health emergency, including, without limitation, due to job loss, reduction in compensated hours of work, closure of place of employment, or the need to miss work to care for a home-bound school-age child; and (ii) with respect to an entity, a substantial loss of income resulting from COVID-19 or the related proclamation of a state of emergency and catastrophic health emergency, including, without limitation, due to lost or reduced business, required closure, or temporary or permanent loss of employees.

The Order further clarifies that the fact that the tenant, or any person permissibly cohabiting with the tenant in accordance with the terms of the lease, has a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 or is under investigation for COVID-19, shall not constitute a “clear and imminent danger” of the tenant’s or other person’s doing harm to themselves, other tenants, the landlord, the landlord’s property, or any other person on the property, for the purposes of establishing that there has been a breach of the lease.

The Order provides that the prohibitions regarding evictions are in effect until the state of emergency is terminated and the catastrophic health emergency is rescinded.

It is noted that the Order only temporarily prohibits landlord eviction actions and does not expressly relieve or reduce any tenant payment obligations (including late fees, interest or other damages) or prohibit the application of any security deposits or the drawing of any letters of credit. Although not addressed in this Alert, it is further noted that the Order expressly prohibits the initiation of residential foreclosures, but does prohibit commercial foreclosures.

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For Further Information:

If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact Thomas Totten, Gordon Knox or any member of the COVID-19 Strategy Team or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.