Evictions: Important Guidance for Landlords
By: Kristina Finley and Wendy Paradis
Like most business owners, landlords are facing serious challenges as a result of COVID-19. Many tenants are struggling to pay rent, and new federal and state rules and restrictions limit remedies currently available to landlords. Navigating these new guidelines while ensuring the health and safety of tenants and managing cash flow requires landlords to assess many competing interests.
The following is a short summary of some rules currently in place regarding evictions in ME:
April 16, 2020 Governor Mills’ Executive Order. The order has three main parts:
- It authorizes law enforcement to enforce the prohibition against illegal evictions (such as landlord shutting off utilities)
- With certain exceptions, it prohibits issuing or serving writs of possession authorized by the courts before March 18, 2020
- It increases the time periods which landlords must give when issuing termination notices for tenancies-at-will in certain circumstances (the 30-day notice is increased to 60 days and the 7-day notice for nonpayment of rent is increased to 30 days)
The executive order relates to the pause on the eviction hearings in the courts and will be reviewed once the courts resume hearings of the eviction actions.
April 14, 2020, the ME Supreme Judicial Court’s Revised Emergency Order PMO-SJC-1
This order provides that no eviction proceedings will be scheduled until at least May 1, 2020, unless otherwise ordered by the court. This applies to all eviction proceedings, whether they are related to nonpayment of rent or not. The order provides an exception where a landlord may request to be heard by the court in extraordinary and urgent circumstances if there are compelling reasons to proceed.
March 27, 2020 – Federal CARES Act
The CARES Act provides a 120-day moratorium (until July 25, 2020) on evictions of tenants at “covered properties” – these include properties receiving federal subsidies, housing choice voices (a/k/a Section 8 payments), tax credits and properties with certain federally-backed mortgage loans. Landlords at “covered properties” are restricted from filing new eviction actions for nonpayment of rent, and also are prohibited from charging late fees and penalties for nonpayment of rent. The CARES Act also provides that after the expiration of the moratorium, landlords must provide a 30-day termination notice before proceeding with an eviction.
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