Examining the local impact of CDC order to temporarily ban evictions

A new CDC order temporarily bans evictions and is said to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and comply with stay-at-home orders. 

The agency said they are protecting renters from crowded shelters and homelessness, but as a result, landlords are beginning to feel unprotected.

"Tenants still need to pay their rent. I think there has been some misinformation out there,” Rita Dallago, a local property owner and member of the Capital Area Rental Property Owners Association, said. 

The CDC’s order temporarily protects renters by halting residential evictions due to the pandemic, but it does not relieve any individual of any obligation to pay rent. 

"I think in Harrisburg there was even a protest or march asking for rents to be canceled," Dallago said. "That's just not very realistic."

Dallago said landlords do work with tenants and try to keep people in their homes. 

"Typically, yes, eviction is the only recourse, however, it is the last resort," Dallago said.

The CARES Act Rent Relief Program helps, but many advocacy associations are calling for more funding. People are only eligible for up to $750 a month, where they can prove at least a 30% reduction from pre-COVID income.

"So that people who are having financial hardships can either pay all their rent or some of their rent, so that property owners don't have to go into default on their properties because of lack of payment," Marlynn Orlando, CEO of the Pennsylvania Apartment Association, said.

They said the process is cumbersome. Individuals must complete the Lessee Household Certification and landlords must complete a Property Certification and application with documentation.

Orlando also said more clarity is necessary to apply the agency order. For example, how to prove the affidavit requirements; non covid related evictions that later meet covid standards; plus, the portion of eviction processes that can be carried out. 

"What we are hearing is different courts are sort of implementing this with variety," Orland said.

Orlando said they also want to know if the CDC has the authority to make this kind of declaration. 

"It seems out of their purview," Orland said. "It's one thing to mandate we all wear facemasks. It's another to sort of get in the middle of contract law between a landlord and a tenant."

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