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City of Philadelphia
 

COVID-19 Emergency Tenant Protections

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Philadelphia enacted the Emergency Housing Protections Act (EHPA) that went into effect on July 2, 2020. The EHPA provides a number of protections for tenants who are struggling to pay rent during this time.

Residential Eviction Relief

Until August 31, 2020, a landlord cannot take steps to evict any residential tenant, unless there is an imminent threat of harm by the tenant. This eviction prohibition also includes small businesses with fewer than 100 employees, if the business reported a financial hardship to their landlord.

Landlord Required Notice of Rights to Tenants

A landlord wishing to evict a residential tenant must send to the tenant the Landlord Required Notice of Rights to Tenants (this is NOT a lease termination or non-renewal notice) 30 days before taking any other steps to evict.

If a tenant submits a Tenant COVID-19 Certification of Financial Hardship, a landlord must then contact the Eviction Diversion Program who will assign a housing counselor to the tenant and schedule a mediation conference with the landlord and tenant.

Temporary Waiver of Late Fees

Landlords cannot charge late fees from March 1, 2020 through May 31, 2021 to tenants who are experiencing a COVID-19 financial hardship. Landlords must also credit back any paid late fees during this time to a tenant’s rental account.

Mandatory Repayment Agreements

Tenants experiencing a COVID-19 financial hardship are entitled to enter into a mandatory repayment agreement with their landlords, which allows tenants to pay back rent owed from March 1, 2020 through August 31, 2020, over a nine-month period ending on May 31, 2021.

  • In order enter into a Mandatory Hardship Repayment Agreement, tenants must provide a Tenant COVID-19 Certification of Financial Hardship to their landlord as well as any supporting documentation of the financial hardship.
  • The Eviction Diversion Program will be available to assist tenants and landlords wishing to enter into these payment agreements.

Eviction Diversion Program

The City has created an Eviction Diversion Program  that landlords must utilize through December 31, 2020 for tenants experiencing a COVID-19 financial hardship, except those tenants posing an imminent threat of harm. A landlord may not take any steps to evict a tenant in court until the parties engage in the Diversion Program, unless the program cannot schedule a meeting within 30 days. The Eviction Diversion Program enables landlords and tenants to arrive at an agreement that works for both parties, without having to go to Court.

To schedule a mediation, landlords must first submit a request through the Eviction Diversion web portal. Once it is confirmed that the request is complete, the landlord and tenant will be scheduled for a mediation conference within 30 days.

Illegal Lockouts

If a Landlord illegally locks out a tenant from their property without first going through the court process, tenants may file complaints with the Fair Housing Commission. Tenants may also file a lawsuit in court against a landlord who has illegally locked them out.

Rental Assistance

Rental Assistance is now available through the City of Philadelphia for tenants and landlords to apply together. For more information go to: https://phlrentassist.org/

Covid-19 Financial Hardship Eligibility

If a tenant, or a member of the tenant’s household, experiences any of the following from March 1, 2020 through August 31, 2020, they are protected under the law:

• Was diagnosed with COVID-19 or had to self-quarantine due to potential exposure to COVID-19.

• Cannot work or have had to self-quarantine because I/we have a greater risk of harm if COVID-19 is contracted due to a compromised immune system, age, or due to the specific recommendation of a health care professional, the CDC, the Governor of Pennsylvania, the Secretary of Health of Pennsylvania, the Mayor of Philadelphia, or the Health Commissioner of Philadelphia.

• Had to care for a family member due to a diagnosis of COVID-19 or a need to self-quarantine.

• Had to care for a family member due to school, childcare or elder care closure during the pandemic.

• Lost a job or my worksite was temporarily closed.

• Had reduced hours or wages at work.

• Was not employed on March 1, 2020 and was not able to find new employment during this time.

• Had to financially support a family member due to one of the above reasons.