“The proposed extension will give tenants time to begin to stabilize their incomes, comply with Governor Wolf’s stay-at-home order, which now extends through the end of April, and work with their landlords. to reach new payment agreements,” the 13 groups wrote in a letter to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and the City Council.
They argue that lifting the moratorium on evictions as soon as the state of emergency ends will not give people time to earn enough money to pay unpaid rent.
And, they add, the closure of non-essential businesses prevents some people from being able to move on the date agreed on on their lease. Estate agents are not showing properties in person and moving companies are also hard to hire due to the closure.
Fifty-one percent of the city’s residents are tenants. The group says failing to protect them beyond the state of emergency could trigger mass evictions that “will cause major destabilization for the City, its tenants and landlords.”
But the owners have their own bills to pay.
Paul Cohen, general counsel for the Homeowners Association of Philadelphia (HAPCO), said city landlords have been working with tenants during the pandemic, and his group came out early in favor of a freeze. federal evictions and foreclosures.
However, he said the owners feared for their own future and also wanted more protections.
“Your smallholders are people who don’t have a lot of money. They are not rich people. These are people trying to get by with what little they have,” Cohen said, adding that about half of Philadelphia’s rental units are not owned by big corporations, but by individuals who own between one and four dwellings.
These people, he said, still have to pay property taxes and mortgages.
The $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief package is giving homeowners government-backed mortgage forbearance, essentially a way to temporarily reduce or defer payments to some lenders. General Council member Helen Gym said forbearance will help a “significant percentage” of Philadelphians, but Cohen stressed that property owners will still have to pay interest.