Many renters are facing tough financial times during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that has led to late rent payments.
But there are protections in place right now to prevent them from being evicted.
David Storoz got a text message from his landlord after church on Sunday, saying he was being evicted from the room he rents in his home — because his rent was eight days late.
“I was sick to my stomach and I wanted to throw up,” Storoz said.
Governor Wolf signed an executive order in July, extending protection to renters from eviction through the end of August. Just this past Friday, President Trump signed an executive order to explore assistance for renters to prevent evictions. But even without these COVID-19 protections, landlords have to follow the rules set by law before they can evict someone.
“You have to give them a notice of the violation of the lease whether for non-payment or something else and if nonpayment, they have 10 days to make the payment good,” said real estate attorney James Herb.
Storoz has since paid his rent, but says the landlord still wants him out.
“You understand you can’t evict someone during this time, especially with just five days. I know that. but what you have to do, you have to threaten somebody. He said he had a place to go,” said Storoz’s landlord Becky Haskins.
Storoz is not alone being late on his rent, as lawmakers shared at a hearing today a new eviction mitigation bill being proposed.
“Since the pandemic, 200,000 renters, or 15% of the population, have been negatively affected by COVID-19,” said state legislator Maureen Madden.
The bill proposes to require landlords to create a payment plan option for tenants, prohibit landlords from charging late fees on rent during a statewide emergency, and to create a landlord-tenant mediation and counseling program.
Storoz's landlord has backed off and said she no longer wants to evict him, since he has paid up for the month.
She also pointed out these are tough times for landlords too, who still have to pay their mortgage and bills.
With both sides hurting, lawmakers said payment plans and mediation are an important part of the solution.
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