News & Events

The Latest Update on the Impact of COVID-19 on Landlord/Tenant Actions in Lancaster County

As state and local governments attempt to navigate the ever changing landscape as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing that has remained clear is that, during this period, residential tenants were not to be displaced from a residence based upon their failure to make a rent, loan, or other similar payment, or their failure to vacate the premises at the end of a lease term.

On May 7, 2020, Governor Wolf signed an Executive Order extending the temporary ban on evictions until July 10, 2020.  Additionally, this Order stayed the notice requirements mandated by the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 and the Manufactured Home Community Rights Act for certain foreclosure actions and for eviction proceedings, meaning a landlord or lender is not permitted to issue the notice he or she typically would have issued to begin such actions until after July 10, 2020.

On May 27, 2020, President Judge David L. Ashworth of the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas issued an Administrative Order outlining a timeline as to how the Lancaster County Magisterial District Courts (“MDCs”) are going to deal with landlord/tenant matters and manufactured home community rights.  Consistent with Governor Wolf’s May 7, 2020 Executive Order, all notice requirements under the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 and the Manufactured Home Community Rights Act have been suspended until July 10, 2020, at which time a landlord can serve the required notice to quit on a tenant pursuant to the terms of the lease between the parties, if one exists.  If, however, the landlord sent a notice between May 11, 2020 and July 9, 2020, the relevant time period for that notice will not commence until July 10, 2020.  For example, if a landlord sent a tenant a 30-day notice to quit on May 12, 2020, that 30-day period will not start to run until July 10, 2020.  Therefore, the landlord would not be able to file the landlord/tenant complaint with the local magisterial district court until August 11, 2020.  However, starting on July 10, 2020, if no notice was required by the lease, or if the landlord served a notice to quit prior to May 11, 2020, a landlord can then file a landlord/tenant complaint.

On June 1, 2020, MDCs will begin to accept the filing of new commercial and residential landlord/tenant complaints that resulted from a breach of a condition of the lease, as long as it is not a covered property under Section 4024 of the CARES Act.*  Landlords should be aware that now they will be required to complete and sign a CARES Act Compliance Statement prior to filing their landlord/tenant complaint or it will be rejected.

Additionally, after June 1, 2020, MDCs will begin to schedule eviction hearings that were filed prior to March 26, 2020.  Those particular hearings will not be subject to the CARES Act limitations.  For the landlord/tenant complaints that were filed between March 27, 2020 and May 11, 2020, those hearings will be rescheduled as long as they are compliant with the CARES Act.

As landlord/tenant law is an evolving area, especially now with respect to tenant defaults caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is recommended that landlords discuss their rights and remedies with legal counsel prior to taking action.

If you have any questions regarding changes to the landlord/tenant law during the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact Todd P. Kriner at tpk@blakingerthomas.com or 717-509-7219.

**This update is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or as creating an attorney-client relationship where one does not already exist.  This article was published on June 15, 2020.  Please be aware that the laws and regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic are being updated rapidly.  Please check back or contact us for the most up-to-date information.**

* The Act defines a “covered property” as a property that: (1) participates in a “covered housing program” as defined by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) (as amended through the 2013 reauthorization); (2) participates in the “rural housing voucher program under Section 542 of the Housing Act of 1949;” (3) has a federally backed mortgage loan; or (4) has a federally backed multifamily mortgage loan. See Section 4024(a)(2).