REALTORS® Under COVID: Evictions, PPP & Student Loans
LA County Mandate: People attending major outdoor events in Los Angeles County will be required to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status, under a new order issued Aug. 16 by the county health department. Click to read the order.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) opened a new online portal for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrowers to directly apply for forgiveness on Aug. 4. This portal is only available for PPP borrowers with loans of $150K or less. All borrowers must apply through the SBA lender that provided their PPP loan. Lenders must opt-in to the program to allow its borrowers to access it.
In addition to the new forgiveness application portal, the SBA is increasing its customer service team to answer questions and directly assist borrowers with their forgiveness applications. Borrowers should call (877) 552-2692, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (EST).
Visit NAR – SBA FAQS for additional information on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Student Loans: Paused Through January 2022
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Education announced that federal student loan payments will remain on pause through the end of January, 2022.
Loan payments, interest accruals and collections of defaulted federal student loans have all been on hold since the start of the pandemic. The Education Department called this latest extension the final one.
Eviction Ban: Through Oct. 3; Effect in California
The CDC’s new60-day orderapplies only to counties with substantial or high transmission of COVID-19. That includesmost of the countryright now. While California evictions were already paused through Sept. 30, the federal order applies to all states through Oct. 3.
The agency’s authority for such a ban derives from thePublic Health Service Actof 1944, which gives the Department of Health and Human Services (of which CDC is a part) the authority to declare and respond to public health emergencies and control communicable diseases.
The previous eviction ban was announced by the CDC in September 2020, during the Trump administration, and was extended in March and June of this year. It expired on July 31 after the Supreme Court signaled it wouldn’t accept any further extensions without congressional authorization, and Congress didn’t act to extend it.
President Biden says he’s not certain whether the new CDC order will survive potential legal challenges, but he’s hoping it will buy people on the brink of eviction some breathing room.
“By the time it gets litigated, it will probably give some additional time, while we’re getting that $45 billion out to people who are in fact behind in the rent and don’t have the money,” he said last week.
REALTORS® want to stop the extension, saying it exposes housing providers to further income loss. The Alabama and Georgia state REALTOR® associations—along with two housing providers and their property management companies—filed an emergency motion last Wednesday in federal court to block enforcement of the Federal extension to Oct. 3, which the CDC announced late last Tuesday.
The Alabama and Georgia associations have been involved in an ongoing legal battle since last November to strike down the eviction ban and support the rights of property owners. The Supreme Court weighed in on the case this summer, saying the CDC couldn’t extend the moratorium beyond July 31 without Congressional approval of new legislation.
Last month Congress tried and failed to pass an extension bill, which NAR opposed. The two REALTOR® associations are now asking a U.S. District Court judge to uphold the Supreme Court’s interpretation.
The Department of Justice argues in court filings that this is a new eviction moratorium, not an extension of an existing one, and is necessary to continue helping struggling renters as spread of the Delta variant explodes in the U.S.
But housing providers say the moratorium, which the CDC first put in place last September, has cost them more than $13 billion per month in unpaid rent and continue to urge for swift deployment of federal rental assistance as the solution.
While lawsuits continue, NAR is focusing on swifterdisbursement of rental assistance funds, which are now available in every state. As noted above, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau debuted anew tool to apply for rental assistancelast week. But only about 6.5% of the nearly $50 billion in funding—which NAR was instrumental in securing—has been distributed, according to government data.
“About half of all housing providers are mom-and-pop operators, and without rental income, they cannot pay their own bills or maintain their properties,” NAR President Charlie Oppler said in a statement Wednesday. “NAR has always advocated that the best solution for all parties is rental assistance paid directly to housing providers to cover the rent and utilities of any vulnerable tenants during the pandemic. No housing provider wants to evict a tenant and considers it only as a last resort.”