Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and WITF Public Media. Sign up for our free weekly newsletter.
There’s a lot of confusion about where things stand with evictions in Pennsylvania. At the beginning of September, the state’s ban on evictions expired and a new federal one went into effect until the end of the year.
Because so much is changing, Spotlight PA has put together this brief guide to help you understand your options (or share with others). We’ve made this information available in a printable infographic that you can share with your neighbors, local organizations, places of worship, and anyone else who needs this information.
Am I protected from eviction?
A federal order bans most evictions for failure to pay rent until the end of the year. To qualify, you must fill out a form certifying that:
you have experienced a “substantial” loss of income
you are making “best efforts” to pay as much of your rent as possible and to get help from government assistance programs
you do not earn more than $99,000 per year.
Lawyers recommend that you send one copy of the form to your landlord via certified mail, and keep another for yourself. Each adult listed on the lease should fill out the form.
The federal order does not cover evictions filed for reasons other than failing to pay rent — for instance, if your landlord says you have damaged the property. It also doesn’t mean that your rent is forgiven.
Where can I get help paying my rent?
If you are at least 30 days behind on rent, you may qualify for rental assistance from the state. The program requires both you and your landlord to fill out paperwork. You must apply through a local organization in the county where you live. If you live in Philadelphia, or in Allegheny County, you can apply online.
You can find that information, as well as the application forms, on the website of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.
The deadline to apply is currently Sep. 30, but state lawmakers are considering giving people more time to apply, as well as changing some of the program’s rules. Follow Spotlight PA for updates.
My landlord is trying to evict me. What should I do?
If your landlord has already filed for eviction, or tries to move ahead with an eviction even after you send them the form, you should contact a lawyer. The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network may be able to help you find a lawyer who will represent you at no cost.
Engagement Fellow Yaasmeen Piper designed the flyer.
100% ESSENTIAL: Spotlight PA relies on funding from foundations and readers like you who are committed to accountability journalism that gets results. If you value this reporting, please give a gift today at spotlightpa.org/donate.