NEW BILL THREATENS TO AFFECT LANDLORDS’ ABILITY TO COLLECT RENTS AND OTHER CHARGES
The New Jersey Legislature is meeting Monday, April 12th to consider more bills to provide relief to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The current bills being considered are varied, but there is one bill in particular which may substantially impact landlords.
Assistance Animals and Reasonable Accommodations under the Fair Housing Act
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) recently issued a Notice as to the legality and enforcement of animal policies in multiple dwellings with respect to Assistance Animals under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”). This Notice applies to a variety of multiple dwellings, including apartment buildings and community associations. The Notice assists in gaining an understanding of the obligations of housing providers and regulators toward tenants and owners with disabilities with respect to the ability to keep animals in their dwellings. The Notice also replaces several pieces of guidance previously issued by HUD on housing providers’ obligations regarding service and assistance animals.
NEW JERSEY PUTS A TEMPORARY HOLD ON ALL SHORT-TERM RENTALS FOR SITES SUCH AS AIRBNB AND VRBO
On March 21, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy issued Executive Order No. 107, which closed to the public the brick-and-mortar premises of all non-essential retail businesses due to the COVID‑19 pandemic. It also deemed a subset of retail businesses as “essential” and permitted them to remain open during their normal business hours. The Governor also issued Executive Order No. 108 that same day. In a nutshell, Executive Order 108 allows municipalities or counites to impose additional restrictions in response to those established by Executive Order No. 107, under certain conditions.
RENT FREEZING IN NORTH JERSEY AND BEYOND
We hope you are all managing and staying healthy throughout these difficult times. Governments across the country are taking action to help keep tenants in their homes and stop evictions. For example, evictions are not happening right now in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. However, some individual cities are attempting to take more aggressive action to keep renters in apartments: enacting rent freezes.
LANDLORDS, TENANTS, AND COPING WITH COVID 19
We hope that you, your friends, family, and loved ones are all staying safe and healthy, especially under these difficult circumstances. As a result of the ongoing COVID‑19 pandemic, everything has begun to change. While we all hope that things will return to normal soon, no one can be certain when this crisis will end. To help cope with all this uncertainty, we at Griffin Alexander, P.C., are prepared to help our clients develop plans to work with their tenants while society adapts.
THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AND ITS IMPENDING EFFECT ON LANDLORDS
By now, most states have instituted mandatory rules requiring non-essential people to work from home. In many cases, some workers have been afforded this convenience, however there are many that have lost employment. In all cases, one major concern has been the ability of many individuals and families to continuing making rent payments to landlords.
Pennsylvania Covid-19 Update Landlord/Tenant Court
In response to Covid-19, on March 18, 2020, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Western District has issued an Order directing that all Pennsylvania courts are closed to the public from March 20, 2020 through at least April 3, 2020. With regard to landlord/tenant court matters, it was directed that during the period encompassed by the Order or the judicial emergency, whichever is longer, “no officer, official, or other person employed by the Pennsylvania Judiciary at any level shall effectuate an eviction, ejectment, or other displacement from a residence based upon the failure to make a rent, loan, or other similar payment. Nothing herein is intended to preclude requests for orders of possession resulting from judgments entered in landlord-tenant actions to be filed by mail. However, any execution on an order of possession is stayed to a date on or after April 3, 2020, subject to further orders.” Further, all time calculations for purposes of time computation relevant to court cases or other judicial business, as well as time deadlines, are also suspended through April 3, 2020.
Landlord/Tenant Legislation: COVID-19 Response
The Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee advanced a number of bills to address the COVID-19 crisis. Senator Joe Cryan proposed a bill to the Assembly, A-3859/S-2276, which introduced a moratorium on evictions of tenants. The Senate held a Judiciary Committee Meeting and a Senate Voting Session today to vote on these proposed this bill. The Senate made a unanimous decision to pass the bill into law. The new law, in summary, states the following:
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS AND THE CORONAVIRUS
As a result of COVID-19, a.k.a. the “Coronavirus,” over the past few days and weeks, we have seen states and the Federal government taking more and more action to curb its spread. As infection and death rates increase, governments encourage quarantine measures, businesses increasingly permit employees to work from home, and more-and-more people choose to self-quarantine, community associations must plan for how they are going to combat the virus.
HUD REGULATIONS PREEMPT NJ ANTI-EVICTION ACT
In a recent Superior Court decision, the New Jersey court in Summit Plaza Assocs. v. Kolta explored the parameters of the federal preemption doctrine in the context of a landlord/tenant action. The Court held that the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations expressly preempt state law and that preemption is warranted as the regulations served similar federal and state interests in maintaining the availability of low-income housing. HUD’s Section 8 program was designed to enable the government to assist low income families with their rent by paying a subsidy directly to the landlord.