Editor’s Note: As the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) is fluid, information in this article was correct at the time of posting and may be out of date at the time you are reading it. For the most up-to-date guidance on coronavirus, please visit PARealtors.org/coronavirus.
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting many residents and businesses ability to pay their rents and mortgages.
Residents and businesses unable to make their rental or mortgage payments are urged to contact their landlords or lenders to discuss their individual situations. Many major banks and lenders have published information on their websites about how to defer payments.
“Individuals and businesses should be contacting their landlords or lenders to explain their situations,” said Joseph Tarantino Jr., a Pennsylvania Real Estate Commissioner, who owns and manages both residential and commercial properties.
“What we’re seeing on the commercial side right now is business tenants reaching out for a deferment in their rents. We worked with one tenant to come up with a plan, deferring 50% of his rent and adding it to the back end of the lease. He’s been a long-time tenant and we want to keep him as a tenant, we want to work with him,” Tarantino, a Realtor® for 51 years, noted. “We expect to have requests from other tenants as well, especially if their business has been shut down during the pandemic. You can’t evict people. If you have a good tenant, you don’t want to lose them.”
Tenants are encouraged to reach out to their landlords or property managers about rental deferment and property owners are encouraged to reach out to their lender about potential loan deferment.
If clients are reaching out to Realtors® asking for rental deferment, owners should reach out to their bank or mortgage lender.
“I would suggest calling your own lender to work out a plan to defer mortgage payments for two months. This isn’t asking to not pay, but a deferment for a month or two,” Tarantino added.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered courts closed to eviction proceedings due to the COVID-19 state of emergency. The court’s order is applicable to all Pennsylvania property owners, managers, landlords, as well as mortgage brokers and lenders.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro wrote to landlords and mortgage lenders to urge them to extend the time during which eviction proceedings are suspended for a period of time beyond what the Supreme Court requires to give affected Pennsylvanians time to get back on their feet.
“With millions of Pennsylvanians following Governor Wolf’s direction to stay at home, it is critical that rental evictions cease for the duration of this emergency,” said Shapiro in his letter. “Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians have lost wages and jobs during this crisis and we will need time for businesses to reopen and for our economy to come back when the emergency is lifted. Stable housing is part of the foundation we need as a commonwealth to fully recover.”
More information about mortgage deferment is available online: Freddie Mac, a PAR sponsor, and Fannie Mae.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency also has additional mortgage FAQs and has published information for renters.
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, a PAR sponsor, has also posted COVID-19 information for homeowners.
For the most up-to-date information, be sure to continue to visit PARealtors.org/coronavirus for answers to the most pressing questions.