Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania Extends Statewide Eviction and Foreclosure Moratorium Through August 31, 2020
Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania extended the Commonwealth’s moratorium on residential evictions and foreclosures through August 31, 2020. This new development builds upon previous moratoria from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as well as the Governor’s prior actions staying evictions and foreclosures issued on March 18 and May 7, respectively. Governor Wolf’s latest order clarifies that the renewed moratorium applies only to those eviction and foreclosure actions pertaining to the nonpayment of monies or related to the removal of a holdover tenant (previous moratoria only allowed evictions and foreclosures related to the physical safety of other tenants).
As with previous orders, Governor Wolf’s eviction and foreclosure moratorium does not technically stop eviction proceedings as much as it creates a legal fiction in which the proceeding is not deemed to have commenced until the moratorium expires on August 31, 2020.
Unfortunately, the Governor’s new order is unclear as to whether it provides protections for commercial tenants. That said, the tolled notice deadlines cited in the order seem to apply only to residential evictions and foreclosure actions.
Of particular note, the eviction or foreclosure moratoria do not absolve borrowers or renters from their obligations to pay their rental or mortgage obligations. Specifically the new order states that it “does not treat nonpayment of monies during this period as forgiven and individuals are still responsible for any rent or monies owed under the terms of the mortgage or lease agreement.”
Additionally, Governor Wolf carved out certain scenarios where the order would not apply:
- Federally backed mortgage loans (federal mortgage programs have extended their own moratorium until August 31, 2020)
- Individuals in counties where the courts continue to be closed or have issued orders staying evictions or foreclosures through or after August 31, 2020 (as of now, that is only Philadelphia, which has extended the stay on certain eviction actions through September 8, 2020)
- Lenders or property owners who have agreed to participate in CARES Act relief available through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency
This order comes as Pennsylvania’s statewide eviction and foreclosure moratorium was set to expire on July 10, 2020.