§ 9-809.  COVID-19 Emergency Housing Protections. 1001,1
   (1)   Definitions. The following definitions apply to this Section 9-809 only:
      (a)   Certification of Hardship. A signed written statement, which may be signed by use of a typed electronic signature and provided electronically or may be provided in hard copy, that is subject to the provisions of Section 1-108 of the Code (Certification), and is submitted by an individual with personal knowledge of the facts set forth therein stating, at minimum, as follows, provided that any initial statements may be further supplemented with additional explanation, facts, or support at any time:
         (.1)   In the case of a residential tenant, that a residential tenant has lost income due to the pandemic and setting forth facts that provide an explanation of the COVID-19 financial hardship suffered.
         (.2)   In the case of a commercial tenant, that a small business has suffered a small business financial hardship and setting forth facts supporting such financial hardship.
      (b)   COVID-19 emergency period. The period beginning on the date the ordinance adding Section 9-809 to the Code becomes law and ending August 31, 2020.
      (c)   COVID-19 financial hardship. A tenant's or tenant's household member's loss of income due to any one or more of the following during the COVID-19 emergency period or the retroactive emergency period:
         (.1)   A diagnosis of the disease caused by the 2019 novel Coronavirus, known as COVID-19.
         (.2)   The need to quarantine or self-quarantine due to the advice of a health care provider; due to symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath; after the return of an individual to the United States after travel to a Tier 2 or Tier 3 country as defined by the United States Center for Disease Control ("CDC") with respect to COVID-19; or as the result of having come into contact with an individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
         (.3)   The need to care for a family member or a member of the tenant's household as the result of such family or household member's diagnosis of COVID-19 or self-quarantine for purposes described in subsection 9-809(1)(c)(.2).
         (.4)   The need to care for a family member of a member of the tenant's household as the result of the closure of a school, daycare, adult care facility, or other care facility where care would otherwise be provided for such family or household member.
         (.5)   The inability to work as the result of a requirement by the Governor, the Secretary of Health of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Mayor, or the Health Commissioner that businesses, or a particular type of business, must remain closed.
         (.6)   The inability to work as the result of such tenant or such tenant's household member being at a greater risk of harm than the general population if such person or such person's household member contracts COVID-19, such as those with compromised immune systems, the elderly, or those who have self-quarantined as the result of the recommendation of a health care professional, the CDC, the Governor, the Secretary of Health of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Mayor, or the Health Commissioner.
         (.7)   The inability to work as a result of a requirement by the Governor, the Secretary of Health of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Mayor, or the Health Commissioner that residents of certain areas of the Commonwealth must not travel, and such travel would be necessary to report to work.
         (.8)   The loss of a job, the reduction of work hours offered to such tenant or such tenant's household member, or a reduction in the salary or hourly wage paid to such tenant or such tenant's household member, whether permanent or temporary.
         (.9)   The inability to commence or obtain employment.
         (.10)   The need to financially support a family member due to the family member or a household member of such family member's loss of income for any one or more of the reasons set forth in this subsection 9-809(1)(c).
      (d)   Landlord. An owner of a rental premises and any agent, or other person, operating or managing a rental premise on behalf of an owner.
      (e)   Retroactive emergency period. The period beginning March 1, 2020 and continuing through the effective date of the ordinance adding this Section 9-809 to the Code.
      (f)   Small business. A person that employs fewer than 100 total employees, wherever located, whether within the City of Philadelphia or elsewhere.
      (g)   Small business financial hardship. A small business's documented loss of income due to one or more of the following during the COVID-19 emergency period or the retroactive emergency period:
         (.1)   A requirement or recommendation by the Governor, the Secretary of Health of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Mayor, or the Health Commissioner that businesses in a particular area, or a particular type of business, remain fully or partially closed.
         (.2)   The owner or operator, a key employee, or a significant number of employees of the small business being unable to work as a result of the circumstances set forth in subsections 9-809(1)(c)(.1), (.2), (.3), (.4), (.6), or (.7).
         (.3)   The loss of customers or reduction of business from customers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, or related recommendations or requirements of the Governor, the Secretary of Health of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Mayor, or the Health Commissioner.
   (2)   Purpose. This Section 9-809 shall apply in addition to any other provisions in this Chapter 9-800, or any provisions of a lease entered into between a tenant and landlord. If the provisions of this Section 9-809 conflict with any other provisions of Chapter 9-800 or the provisions of any lease that otherwise governs a landlord tenant relationship, the provisions of this Section 9-809 shall control.
   (3)   Residential Eviction Relief. 1001,2 During the COVID-19 emergency period the only legal basis for evicting a residential tenant in Philadelphia shall be to cease or prevent an imminent threat of harm by the person being evicted, including physical harm or harassment, and it shall be unlawful for a landlord to take any steps in furtherance of recovering possession of a residential premises rented by a tenant on any other basis.
   (4)   Commercial Eviction Relief. 1001,3 If any person has provided the landlord with a certification of hardship, during the COVID-19 emergency period the only legal basis for evicting a small business that is a commercial tenant in Philadelphia shall be to cease or prevent an imminent threat of harm by the person being evicted, including physical harm or harassment, and it shall be unlawful for a landlord to take any steps in furtherance of recovering possession of a commercial premises rented by such small business on any other basis.
   (5)   Eviction Diversion Program. 1001,4
      (a)   The Commission, or such other City department or office as the Mayor may designate, is authorized to establish a residential eviction diversion program consisting of the following:
         (.1)   A conciliation conference between a landlord and tenant that has experienced a COVID-19 financial hardship to mediate an agreement for asserted residential lease violations.
         (.2)   A designated mediator and housing counselor that participates in the conciliation conference.
         (.3)   A designated housing counselor that engages with the tenant prior to the conciliation conference to educate and discuss available resources.
      (b)   Provided that this subsection (5)(b) expires on December 31, 2020, if the residential eviction diversion program authorized by this subsection, "Eviction Diversion Program", is implemented, from the date of such implementation no landlord shall take steps in furtherance of recovering possession of a residential property occupied by a tenant who has suffered a COVID-19 financial hardship other than providing a notice required under this Section 9-809 without first participating in a conciliation conference, including any requirements set forth in an applicable regulation, unless one of the following requirements are met:
         (.1)   Eviction is necessary to cease or prevent an imminent threat of harm by the person being evicted, including physical harm or harassment; or
         (.2)   The landlord has provided the affected tenants notice of such tenants' rights under this Section 9-809, and how to exercise such rights; and has contacted the eviction diversion program to schedule a conciliation conference but the program is unable to offer a date for a conciliation conference within thirty (30) days of the landlord's initial request to schedule; provided that such landlord shall thereafter participate in a conciliation conference when it becomes available, if prior to an eviction judgment being issued.
   (6)   Temporary Waiver of Certain Fees. 1001,5
      (a)   It shall be unlawful for any landlord to charge or accept the payment of late fees, interest on back rent, or similar charges as the result of delinquent payment of rent with respect to a residential premises during the retroactive emergency period through nine months after the last day of the COVID-19 emergency period, if a residential tenant occupying such premises has experienced a COVID-19 financial hardship. Any residential lease purporting to impose such fees, interest, or charges for delinquent payment of rent shall be void and non-enforceable.
      (b)   A residential tenant may establish a presumption that such tenant has suffered a COVID-19 financial hardship by submitting a certification of hardship to such tenant's landlord.
      (c)   Any fees, interest, or similar charges, submitted by a tenant during the Retroactive emergency period or the COVID-19 emergency period that are prohibited under subsection (6)(a), "Temporary Waiver of Certain Fees", shall be credited first against any future rent, and if there is no such other rent, against any other financial obligations owed by such residential tenant to such tenant's landlord.
   (7)   Mandatory Hardship Repayment Agreement for Residential Tenants with a Certified Financial Hardship as the Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. 1001,6
      (a)   Financial Hardship. Except as provided in subsection (7)(g) below, any residential tenant that has suffered a COVID-19 financial hardship during the retroactive emergency period or the COVID-19 emergency period, and has failed to pay rent as normally due at any point prior to the end of the COVID-19 emergency period shall have the right to enter into a hardship repayment agreement as set forth in subsections (7)(b)(.1) through (.3), below, without incurring any penalty. Such tenant shall be considered in full compliance with any payment obligations under such tenant's lease, and any associated payment agreements, provided such tenant provides such tenant's landlord the following and thereafter enters into a hardship repayment agreement:
         (.1)   A certification of hardship; and
         (.2)   Documentary evidence of the loss of income or increases in expenses the tenant has incurred during the retroactive emergency period or the COVID-19 emergency period as a result of such tenant's COVID-19 financial hardship, or if such documentation cannot be reasonably provided, a further certification explaining why such documentation is not available which may be signed by use of a typed electronic signature and provided electronically or may be provided in hard copy, that is subject to the provisions of Section 1-108 of the Code (Certification).
      (b)   Hardship Repayment Agreement. Any landlord whose residential tenant qualifies for a hardship repayment agreement pursuant to subsection (7)(a), "Financial Hardship", shall enter into a repayment agreement with such tenant to pay past due rent pursuant to the following terms:
         (.1)   The tenant shall pay the full amount of past due rent to the landlord within nine (9) months after the last day of the COVID-19 emergency period.
         (.2)   Beginning the first day of the month following the COVID-19 emergency period, and every month thereafter, the tenant shall pay:
            (.a)   The full monthly rate of rent as normally due; plus
            (.b)   At a minimum, the lesser of the following: thirty percent (30%) of the full monthly rate of rent due during the COVID-19 emergency period, or the total amount of past due rent divided by nine (9).
         (.3)   No late fees or other charges related to past due rent may be charged during the retroactive emergency period, the COVID-19 emergency period, and the nine (9) months thereafter.
         (.4)   If the tenant does not renew or extend the term of the lease, at the end of the term of the lease, the landlord may apply any security deposit towards any past rent due.
      (c)   Prohibition on Hardship Repayment Agreements Reduced to Judgment. It shall be unlawful for a landlord to require or request a residential tenant who has suffered a COVID-19 financial hardship to memorialize a hardship repayment agreement entered into pursuant to subsection (7)(b), "Hardship Repayment Agreement", in a judgment by agreement, consent order, a consent judgment, or similar court order.
      (d)   Notice Required and Limitation on Eviction for Nonpayment of Past Due Rent. In addition to any other limitations set forth under this Section 9-809, until nine (9) months after the last day of the COVID-19 emergency period the nonpayment of rent shall not be a legal basis to evict a tenant unless the following conditions are met:
         (.1)   With respect to a tenant that has not entered into a hardship repayment agreement or requested to enter into a hardship repayment agreement, the landlord has provided the tenant written notice regarding the tenant's rights under this subsection (7), "Mandatory Hardship Repayment Agreement for Tenants with a Certified Financial Hardship as the Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic", as provided under subsection (8), "Notice, Forms, and Regulations" of this section 9-809 at least thirty (30) days prior to the date a landlord takes any such action and, if applicable.
         (.2)   With respect to a tenant who has the right to enter into a hardship repayment agreement and has requested to enter into such an agreement at any point prior to the end of the thirty (30) day notice period in subsection (7)(d)(.1), above, but has not yet entered such an agreement, the eviction action is based on a failure to pay the ongoing monthly rate of rent as it is normally due after the end of the COVID-19 emergency period.
         (.3)   With respect to a tenant who has entered into a hardship repayment agreement, the eviction action is either (.a) based on a failure to pay the ongoing monthly rate of rent as it is normally due after the end of the COVID-19 emergency period; or (.b) the tenant is in arrears in an amount equal to four or more monthly payments required under subsection (7)(b)(.2)(.b), "Hardship Repayment Agreement".
      (e)   In addition to any other limitations set forth under this Section 9-809, the Code, or any other applicable law, until nine (9) months after the last day of the COVID-19 emergency period it shall be unlawful for a landlord to take any steps in furtherance of recovering possession of a residential premises occupied by a tenant or a guest of a tenant, on any basis other than a legal basis for eviction. For the purposes of this subsection (7)(e), sending a notice required under this Section 9-809 or participating in an eviction diversion or mediation program established by the City shall not be considered taking steps in furtherance of recovering possession of a residential premises.
      (f)   Forms. The Commission, or such other City department or office as the Mayor may designate, is authorized to create a form to be used by landlords and tenants entering into a hardship repayment agreement as provided for under subsection (7)(a) and a form for notice under subsection (7)(c).
      (g)   This subsection (7), "Mandatory Hardship Repayment Agreement for Residential Tenants with a Certified Financial Hardship as the Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic", shall not apply if one or more of the following conditions are applicable to the residential tenant, or the residential premises occupied:
         (.1)   The tenant receives a federal housing subsidy pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1437f that is not a tenant-based subsidy; or
         (.2)   The tenant receives a federal housing subsidy administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; or
         (.3)   A loan financing the residential premises is insured or assisted under 12 U.S.C. § 1701q, § 1715l(d)(3), or § 1715z-1; or 42 U.S.C. § 1485.
   (8)   Notice, Forms, and Regulations. 1001,7
      (a)   Required Notice. Any notice that a landlord is required to provide a tenant under this Section 9-809 shall be provided in writing, by hand delivery or certified United States mail with proof of mailing, and must provide notice of the tenant's rights under this Section 9-809 as well as clear information on how the tenant may exercise such rights, including the following specific text or such other language that may be included in a form created by the City pursuant to subsection (8)(b), "Forms and Regulations", (below):
YOU MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR CERTAIN HOUSING PROTECTIONS. IF YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED A FINANCIAL HARDSHIP DUE TO COVID-19, THIS MAY INCLUDE, BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO, A NINE (9) MONTH REPAYMENT PLAN TO PAY PAST DUE RENT. YOU MUST PROVIDE YOUR LANDLORD A CERTIFICATION OF HARDSHIP TO QUALIFY FOR SOME OF THESE PROTECTIONS.
      (b)   Forms and Regulations. The Commission, or such other City department or office as the Mayor may designate, is authorized to issue regulations implementing this Section 9-809, and to create forms to be used by landlords and tenants under this Section 9-809 including but not limited to, a certification of hardship form, a hardship repayment agreement form, and a form of required notice.
   (9)   Defenses. The failure of the landlord to comply with any obligation under this Section 9-809 may be asserted as a defense by a tenant in an action before any adjudicatory body and may not be waived.
   (10)   Severability. If any provision of this Section 9-809 or application thereof to any persons or circumstances is judged invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the Ordinance that can be given effect without the invalidated provision or application and to this end the provisions of the ordinance are declared severable.

 

Notes

1001,1
   Added, Bill No. 200294 (approved July 1, 2020); Bill No. 200295 (approved July 1, 2020); Bill No. 200302 (approved July 1, 2020); and Bill No. 200305 (approved July 1, 2020).
1001,2
   Added, Bill No. 200295 (approved July 1, 2020).
1001,3
   Added, Bill No. 200295 (approved July 1, 2020).
1001,4
   Added, Bill No. 200294 (approved July 1, 2020).
1001,5
   Added, Bill No. 200302 (approved July 1, 2020).
1001,6
   Added, Bill No. 200305 (approved July 1, 2020).
1001,7
   Added, Bill No. 200305 (approved July 1, 2020).