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Eviction Moratorium Struck Down by Federal Judge

By: Brian Carter, Esq. on in

A federal judge wholly struck down the national CDC eviction moratorium on May 5. The challenge was brought in part by the Alabama Association of Realtors® and the Georgia Association of Realtors®.

The judge agreed with the argument that despite the “serious public health crisis” presented by COVID-19, the CDC exceeded its statutory authority when imposing the eviction moratorium.

This decision is at least the third holding unlawful the CDC’s eviction moratorium. What makes this decision different is that the court held the eviction moratorium must be set aside nationally and not just as it applies to the parties in the case.

This means that starting today, landlords are able to evict tenants for non-payment of rent unless there is a local eviction moratorium in place. We are aware of several municipalities across Pennsylvania that have enacted local eviction moratoriums that may still restrict landlords from evicting tenants.

The Justice Department has indicated it will appeal this decision and the appeals court may allow the eviction moratorium to remain in place pending appeal. (Editor’s Update: 
The U.S. Department of Justice filed an appeal along with a request for the judge to stay, or put on hold, the court’s order striking down the eviction moratorium pending appeal. The judge issued a temporary administrative stay. This means that for now the CDC eviction moratorium remains temporarily in place and evictions for non-payment of rent are still prohibited.)

Counties throughout Pennsylvania continue to implement and work on distributing the approximately $570 million in emergency rental assistance relief allocated to Pennsylvania through federal legislation adopted in December 2020.

While tenants are primarily responsible for requesting emergency rental assistance, landlords are also able to apply on behalf of tenants who fail to apply on their own.

Eviction Proceeding Timelines Modified

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court made emergency rule changes to some of the timelines relating to residential eviction proceedings before magisterial district judges. These modified rules went into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. After seeking public comment and additional feedback on the modified rules, the Supreme Court recently announced it is modifying the timelines back to their original periods effective Jan. 1, 2022.

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General Assembly Approves Resolution to End Emergency Declaration

Along with this measure, the legislature also passed House Bill 854 on June 9, with new language extending all of the regulatory waivers that had been issued under the emergency order. Those waivers, including one that allow livestreamed education courses to be counted under the rules applicable to in-person courses, are now extended to Sept. 30. HB854 was approved by both the Senate and House of Representatives and now moves to the governor’s desk for his signature.

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