The Tenant Safe Harbor Act Provides Relief to Residents Who Cannot Pay Rent Due to the Pandemic
While the court-imposed moratorium on all evictions is still in effect, the recently adopted Senate Bill S8192B (the “Tenant Safe Harbor Act”) provides specific relief for residential tenants who cannot pay rent that accrued or becomes due during the COVID-19 covered period.
First, it prohibits landlords from obtaining a possessory judgment or warrant of eviction against a tenant or other lawful occupant in a nonpayment proceeding where the tenant has suffered pandemic-related financial hardship. This means that a tenant or other lawful occupant cannot be evicted for the nonpayment, however, a landlord may still obtain a money judgment against the tenant for the arrears due.
Second, it permits a tenant to raise financial hardship as an affirmative defense to a nonpayment proceeding. Such defense does not necessarily waive the rent due and does not cover pre-pandemic financial difficulties. The Tenant Safe Harbor Act provides some relief to residents whose inability to pay rent has resulted from the pandemic.
As always, we are here to help you navigate through the changing procedures and policies. For further information about coronavirus-related legal issues affecting courts, businesses, and individuals, please visit our Coronavirus Blog.