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Residential Tenant Rights in the Age of COVID-19
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Residential Tenant Rights in the Age of COVID-19

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By Daniel C. Conlon, Esquire – Contributing Writer for PRESENTE

Many Latinos in Pittsburgh have experienced economic hardship due to the Coronavirus pandemic, leading to unprecedented financial strain on our communities and fear for a coming wave of evictions. Some have benefited from economic stimulus checks and Federally-boosted unemployment benefits, but undocumented individuals have had to fend for themselves.  Tenants of residential properties need to know that despite economic hardship, they have rights. A Tenant cannot easily be removed from their home.

Here are five things Latino Tenants should know if facing missed rent payments or eviction.

  1. Tenants have rights (even undocumented ones). Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has no role in landlord-tenant proceedings.
  2. Evictions can take months. Tenants have the right to remain in their home during the notice period, after a complaint is filed and until the Court gives the Landlord possession of the rental property.
  3. No written lease? No problem. A written lease is not required to protect a Tenant from eviction. Tenant rights are afforded by state law, mainly the Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951.
  4. Notice is required. A landlord must provide a tenant with a 10-day written notice prior to filing a complaint for eviction in court, unless the tenant has waived this right in the lease.
  5. Pennsylvania Governor’s Order has increased protections. On July 9, 2020, Governor Wolf issued a new executive order that extends his statewide residential eviction moratorium until August 31, 2020.

Though these protections are in place, remember, eviction is not ideal. If you are evicted, the court record of the eviction proceeding will remain on your record for years, which may impact your ability to lease another rental property in the future.

Help is available. If you face housing insecurity, there are organizations that can help.  For example, you can contact the following organizations:

  • Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation at (412) 343-0545 or go to its office at 1555 Broadway Avenue, Second Floor, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Community Justice Project at 412) 434-6002 or go to its office at 100 Fifth Ave #900, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Neighborhood Legal Services (412) 255-6700 or go to its office at 928 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA.

Daniel C. Conlon, Esquire is a business attorney at Tucker Arensberg, P.C. in Pittsburgh, PA.  He is a native Spanish speaker who grew up in San Miguel Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, and serves a large Latino client base, focused on government, hospitality and business.  He volunteers with many Latino community organizations, serving as Board Director of Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation (PHDC) and Latino Community Center (LCC).  He is also a member of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (PMAHCC) and the Allegheny County Bar Association’s Hispanic Attorneys Committee (HAC).  Daniel was the recipient of the 2019 PUMP and Pittsburgh Magazine 40 Under 40 award.  Contact Daniel at 412-594-3951 or dconlon@tuckerlaw.com

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Pittsburgh’s Hispanic community is the population segment experiencing the largest growth in the region. Our online magazine was created to connect, celebrate, and empower Pittsburgh Latinos. Our bilingual format is inclusive of 2nd to 4th generation Hispanics looking to connect with their roots and contribute to our growing community. Pittsburgh Latino Magazine is published by Presente Pittsburgh Media.

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