Landlord Rights When COVID Forbearance Ends
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone across the globe in some way or another, and this means that many people are unable to meet their financial obligations. Census data obtained by the U.S. government found that up to 43% of homeowners and 59% of renters lost at least some of their employment income during the pandemic. Because of this, many landlords and renters took advantage of federal COVID forbearance programs, but many people still may have questions about landlord rights once COVID forbearance ends.
If you’d like to speak to a real estate attorney and you’re located in or around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, reach out to me at Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C. I serve clients in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, throughout the rest of Allegheny County, and the surrounding counties including, Butler, Westmoreland, Beaver, Armstrong, and Washington.
Understanding COVID Forbearance
When the pandemic hit, the federal government introduced a COVID forbearance program that renters, homeowners, and landlords could all take advantage of. Essentially, it allows a forbearance period which can pause or reduce your monthly payments temporarily. For homeowners, this means working with your lender to either come to an agreement on reduced mortgage payments or pausing your payments in full. At the end of this period, the past-due payments will be due but these can be paid back over time.
Of course, nobody expected the effects of the pandemic to last so long, and the answer to the question, “When does COVID forbearance end?” is somewhat of a moving target. Currently, this forbearance period ends on September 30, 2022, or six months past the end of the presidentially-declared COVID-19 National Emergency (currently set to end on February 28, 2023), whichever is later.
Landlords' Rights Once the Forbearance Ends
As a landlord, you may be concerned about your options at the end of this forbearance period, especially if you’re unsure that your renters will be able to stay current on their monthly payments and make up the back rent.
As a landlord, you have the right to request past due rent from your tenants, but you cannot charge them any additional fees or extra charges. Additionally, you also must provide flexibility to your renters to set up a payment plan to cover these back payments, and you cannot force them to pay it off in one lump sum. You also may not evict your renter for non-payment without first attempting to come to a repayment agreement. If you have made earnest attempts to reach an agreement but your renter is still not able or is refusing to pay you back, you can issue a 30-day notice of eviction.
Can a Landlord Sue for Outstanding Payments?
Yes, landlords have the opportunity for suing for outstanding rent not paid during forbearance and are permitted to take their tenants to small claims court, but this should only be done with the assistance of a landlord attorney. You’ll want to work with someone who has knowledge of both federal and local laws to ensure you’re in compliance with all ordinances. Your attorney may also be able to help you negotiate with your tenant and come to a mutually agreed-upon payment plan before your case actually makes it to the courtroom.
Trusted Guidance You Can Depend On
Both renters and landlords have struggled during the last few years as they attempt to navigate their lives through a pandemic. And, even though there were programs in place that offered assistance, people are still left unsure of what their next steps should be. If you’d like to speak to an attorney about your options as a landlord in a post-pandemic world, contact me at Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.