How COVID Will Change Renter Laws in Pennsylvania

Even without the human touch involved, COVID-19 changed America significantly. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost, with many more people becoming seriously ill.

Of course, the human touch has been a huge factor in how it has impacted our lives on a day-to-day level. Lockdowns and mask mandates have changed the way we live. But none of this has been simple. Political debates have at times pulled us all in different directions.

There have been particular aspects to the pandemic response which have drawn political controversy. One of the most talked-about is that of evictions. Renters who lost their jobs could not pay rent. The government stepped in with a moratorium on evictions, along with a confusing and poorly managed fund to pay landlords.

As America braced for an eviction crisis, the political debate raged on about whether housing was a basic need, the morality of evictions, and the impact the moratorium would have on the economy.

Pennsylvania has been as affected as any other state. Hundreds of thousands of people have fought against eviction, with landlords demanding the ability to take some sort of action to get paid. For better or worse, some of the results of this battle will impact Pennsylvania rental laws permanently.

Here is how COVID might change renter laws in Pennsylvania.

Tenant protections in Pennsylvania

The most likely laws to change in Pennsylvania for good are tenant protections, or the current lack thereof. Pennsylvania has long had a rather open approach to landlords. Landlords have been given the ability to make decisions for their properties without government intervention.

For this reason, there are no limits on late fees, no requirement for late fees to even be written into the rental agreement, and no laws in place to provide a grace period to tenants who fail to pay on time.

During the pandemic, this has already changed. Landlords were unable to charge late fees or think about grace periods, as renters were unable to pay regardless. They could not take action because of the moratorium on evictions.

But while these measures have been in place temporarily to prevent a crisis during the pandemic, some of them are likely to live on. Organisations fighting for tenant protections have taken the opportunity to state their case. They have shown just how harsh an environment the current laws create for tenants.

It is unlikely that long-term tenant protections will be as far-reaching as these organisations hope, but it will create a more secure environment for renters in Pennsylvania.

Government aid to landlords

At the same time, laws will likely be put in place to aid landlords. Landlords are often portrayed as the villains in the potential eviction crisis, but the reality is that renting out homes is an important and legitimate means of making money in a healthy economy. Many people who have bought property to rent out are now struggling to hold onto that property themselves, considering they are no longer getting income from it.

If renting out property becomes unrealistic financially for landlords, tenants suffer too. Public authorities stepping in and possessing homes on which landlords cannot pay the mortgage is simply not an option.

It remains to be seen what kind of aid landlords will receive, especially to make up for back payments over the course of the pandemic, but some level of assistance is necessary.

Homeowners insurance in Pennsylvania

Another issue that impacts both landlords and renters is insurance. While renters can take out renters insurance to cover their possessions, the landlord needs to take out insurance to cover the property itself.

Homeowners insurance PA is not expensive, but homeowners with no income have been struggling to continue paying premiums during the pandemic. The same is true for landlords and landlord insurance.

During the pandemic, insurance companies were sometimes required to pay out sums to people who had not continued paying premiums. Will there be Pennsylvania laws obligating insurance companies to continue to do so after COVID? That looks unlikely, although back payments may be written off.

The pandemic has changed our lives in many ways. Pennsylvania law is already changing to accommodate renters and landlords in the wake of COVID-19.

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