July 20th, 2020

What are Landlord and Tenant Rights and Obligations During the Pandemic?

On July 9, 2020 Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order extending the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, which was set to expire on July 10, 2020, until August 31, 2020. What are landlord and tenant rights and obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Landlords and tenants should be aware of the following rights and obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • During the moratorium, landlords may continue to assess late fees for late rental payments and send default notices to tenants.
  • Although evictions cannot take place while the order is in effect, rental contracts are still valid and payments are due to landlords.
  • Landlords cannot evict tenants without providing tenants written notice and going through the court process.
  • By emergency order, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) prohibits electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunication and steam utility terminations, which will remain in place for as long as the Proclamation of Disaster, issued by Gov. Tom Wolf on March 6 related to the Coronavirus, is in effect.
  • The Pennsylvania Care Package may provide financial relief to landlords who rely on rent for their income.
  • The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Housing Finance Agency, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have each extended eviction and foreclosure protections for housing under their authority to August 31, 2020.

Does the moratorium apply to me?

The Order does not apply to homeowners and renters who are already receiving assistance from the new program administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), federally backed mortgage loans for which the moratorium on foreclosures and evictions has been extended until August 31, 2020, or individuals in counties where courts remain closed or have issued orders staying evictions through or after August 31, 2020.

In addition, the Order applies only to matters involving the nonpayment of monies, as well as to those proceedings related to removal of any tenant solely because the tenant has held over or exceeded the term of a lease.

Lastly, the Order does not apply to suspend notice requirements relating to evictions for breaches of any other covenants.

This blog was originally published April 30, 2020 and was updated with new guidance on July 20, as the moratorium extended until August 31. 


Safa Ashrafi is an associate attorney in the Business Services group. She provides contract law guidance to clients in the real estate, municipal, banking and non-profit industries.