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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 14, 2020 02:30 PM
From: Representative Daniel J. Deasy
To: All House members
As our Commonwealth works to get back on its feet in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many steps have been taken on the state and federal level to help residents; including federal stimulus funds, increase in unemployment benefits, extension of unemployment, increase in SNAP benefits, moratorium on housing evictions, and more. While there have been great efforts to provide rent relief with an extension of the moratorium on evictions, there has not been any provisions put into place to help protect landlords. I am, therefore introducing the Landlord Protection bill and I hope you will join me. 
This bill was born out of conversations over the past two months with constituents who are also landlords and how they are being impacted by COVID-19.  I have an older resident that has a duplex and rents out one side in order to pay the mortgage for the property.  She is now not receiving rent and is struggling to make her mortgage payment.  There is no safety net for her and nowhere for her to get relief.   I have renters who have called my office and have asked how long there is a ban on evictions so they can decide whether or not to pay their rent; not that they don’t have the ability to pay but think they are now not required to do so.   I have also heard from landlords who are stating that because some renters know they can’t be evicted, even if the eviction process was started prior to COVID-19, they are not only not making an effort to pay their rent, they are also trashing the properties, because they know that the landlord cannot evict them.

I am very concerned because the landlords have become unintended victims of the efforts to provide help and relief to renters. And, we must do what we can now to help protect these property owners. 

My legislation would direct the Pennsylvania Homeowners Assistance Program to establish a one-year interest-free loan program to help landlords cover their active rental property expenses that have been directly impacted by COVID-19 and the eviction moratorium.

Provisions for this program would include:
  1. Interest-Free Loan:
    1. Loan amount would be capped at 50% of the assessed value of the property, but not to exceed $50,000
    2. Landlord would have to show that they are current on all real estate taxes
    3. Landlord would have to show that there are no code violations with their home municipality and that the property has been maintained
    4. Landlords with multiple properties that are renter-occupied and impacted by COVID-19 could apply for more than one loan
    5. After 1 year, the interest-free loan will convert to an interest-bearing loan at rate/terms established by PHFA based on landlords credit score and income-to-debt ratio and in line with other PHFA homeowner assistance loans.  Again, landlord would have to show that the property is still a rental, all taxes are current and there are no code violations

  1. Loan-to-Grant Conversion – after one year, a portion of the loan could be converted to a grant if the landlord can show:
    1. Renter failed to pay rent once the eviction ban is lifted and the landlord moved on eviction proceedings AND never received compensation from the tenant.
    2. Grant amount would total all unpaid rent/filing costs and repairs of provable damage to property. (As set by PHFA) - NOTE – remainder amount of any loan would convert to interest-bearing loan. Only portion that can be documented as loss because tenant failed to pay rent and cost of damage repair to rental by the tenant can be converted to a grant.
    3. Landlord would have to forward any court judgement funds to PHFA
PHFA will put into loan or loan-to-grant programs any safeguards they currently use for any other homeowner assistance program. For example, if a landlord converts part of loan to grant because tenant skipped out on several months rent and through the eviction process receives a judgement from the magistrate requiring the tenant to pay, landlord must agree that if rent is ever received then those funds be sent to PHFA. 

Please consider co-sponsoring this important legislation.  Thank you.