Wolf: Pennsylvania eviction moratorium to lapse Aug. 31

26 Aug 2020 | 04:15

Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday he does not have the legal authority to extend Pennsylvania’s moratorium on evictions and foreclosures beyond the end of the month, meaning that renters will no longer be shielded from losing their homes for failing to pay rent during the pandemic. In a letter to both legislative chambers, Wolf said the state’s Emergency Services Code allowed him to block eviction proceedings for only a limited amount of time. The Democrat called on state lawmakers in the Republican-controlled General Assembly to pass legislation to extend the statewide moratorium, which has been in place for more than five months. “Upon the expiration of the moratorium at the end of the month, notices of eviction and foreclosure will again be able to be sent,’’ Wolf wrote. “This begins a process that takes time, but that ultimately concludes with our fellow Pennsylvanians being removed from their homes.’’ Pennsylvania is using $175 million of its federal coronavirus relief money to provide rental assistance to eligible tenants and mortgage relief to homeowners, but Wolf said the program has not been working as intended. Landlords have been reluctant to participate in the state program, he said, because of a $750-per-month cap on payments. Wolf said lawmakers should raise the cap and relax other requirements in the program to encourage participation. “The expiration of the moratorium would be less significant if the programs established to assist renters and homeowners ... were functioning as intended to provide payment assistance,’’ Wolf wrote. House GOP spokesperson Jason Gottesman said Wolf’s unilateral eviction moratorium burdened landlords who “now cannot afford to pay their bills, including property taxes that go to fund local schools.” He said lawmakers will discuss the issue when they return to session next week