Landlord/Tenant Issues During Coronavirus Pandemic
Even before the Governor issued his Stay at Home Order and his order concerning the physical closure of non-life sustaining businesses, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an Order concerning the closure of courts and residential evictions. On March 18, 2020, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court prohibited residential evictions that are the result of a failure to pay rent. This Order also included a prohibition against evictions and ejectments of those who fail to pay mortgages or loans. The prohibitions are in effect from March 19, 2020 through April 3, 2020. A landlord who has obtained a judgment for possession concerning a breach of a lease may still file by mail a request for an Order for Possession. However, the Order for Possession will not be executed during the aforementioned time period. Landlords should also be aware that the Supreme Court alluded to the fact that this time period may be extended.
Other issues involving landlord/tenant matters will likely arise during the next few weeks as a result of the Governor’s Stay at Home Order. For example, does a landlord have the right to access a unit following the issuance of the Governor’s Stay at Home Order and the Governor’s Order concerning closure of non-essential business? Obviously, for certain emergency related issues, a landlord will still be able to enter a unit. However, the Governor’s order specifically states that businesses concerning “Lessors of Real Estate” and “Activities Related to Real Estate” shall not continue physical operations. In addition, his Stay at Home Order prohibits engaging in non-essential activities and requires social distancing and other mitigation measures. Therefore, the Governor’s Orders prohibit activity such as a landlord desiring to show an occupied unit to a prospective tenant.
Aside from residential landlord/tenant matters, commercial lease issues are arising on a daily basis. Many commercial tenants are prohibited from operating from their physical location. Does this mean they can stop paying rent? A thorough review of the commercial lease terms is necessary to properly respond to this question and others. For additional questions or concerns related to a pressing landlord/tenant matter, please contact Scott MacNair, Esquire.
This article is not legal advice and is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.