Congress passed a $900 Billion pandemic relief package (the “Stimulus Package”) on the evening of December 21.  It is expected to be signed by the President shortly.  Among other things, the Stimulus Package includes resources to fund direct stimulus payments to individuals and families, supplemented unemployment benefits, subsidies for businesses and tax credits to employers who continue to provide paid sick leave.  Additionally, the legislation includes rental relief funds and an extension of the current CDC Eviction Moratorium through January 31, 2021.

Stimulus Payments:

The Stimulus Package provides $600 payments to individuals making up to $75,000.00/year, and $1,200.00 to couples making up to $150,000.00/year.  There will also be $600.00 payments per dependent child.  Legislators expect the payments to be disbursed during the last week of December 2020.

Unemployment Supplement:

The Stimulus Package will provide jobless workers with an additional $300 weekly benefit increase (which will not be retroactive) to their state-provided unemployment payments.  There is also a provision allowing an additional $100.00 increase (on top of the $300.00) to some self-employed individuals.  The increased benefits will run for 11 weeks through March 14, 2021.

Aid to Businesses/Additional PPP Funds:

The Stimulus Package includes approximately $285 Billion to fund another round of assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).  The original PPP closed in August 2020.  Details on the PPP can be found at the US Small Business Administration website at Paycheck Protection Program (sba.gov)

Tax Credits for Paid Sick Leave:

The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (“FFCRA”), which required many employers to provide paid sick leave to workers during the pandemic, is set to expire as of January 1, 2021.  The new legislation does not extend the FFCRA or require employers to provide paid leave.  However, the new legislation does provide incentives for employers to grant paid leave under the framework of the FFCRA.  Specifically, under the new law employers will be eligible for tax credits if they continue to provide paid leave to workers under the same terms as sick leave was required under the FFCRA.  The tax credit provision will extend through March 31, 2021. 

Assistance for Tenants and Landlords:

The Stimulus Package includes $25 Billion earmarked for emergency rental assistance to be applied to back rent and overdue utility payments which accumulated since the start of the pandemic.  The funds will be disbursed to the states, which will then distribute the resources to state and local agencies selected to administer the relief to eligible tenants.  Households will be eligible for between 12 and 15 months of assistance under this program.

Tenants will be eligible for relief under the Stimulus Package if:

  • their household income falls below 80% of the area median income (which varies by location and household size); and
  • somebody living in the household either qualifies for unemployment, has lost income due to COVID-19, or if the tenants can show they are at risk to lose their home.

To obtain funds, the tenant (or in some cases the landlord, with the tenant’s approval) will apply for assistance directly with an authorized state or local subsidy provider.  If the tenant is eligible for assistance, the administering agency will send the payment directly to the landlord if the landlord agrees to accept it.  If not, the payment will go to the tenant who will then pay the landlord. 

More information on tenant relief programs can be found at era_1-pgr_12.20.20.pdf (house.gov)

Eviction Moratorium Extension:

The Stimulus Package also extends the CDC’s eviction moratorium for one additional month.  The moratorium, which was originally scheduled to expire on December 31, 2020, is now extended through January 31, 2021.  Notably, the moratorium does not impact or waive a tenant’s obligation to pay rent.  Rather, the moratorium only prevents landlords from evicting tenants for overdue rent during the moratorium period. 

For more information about what tenants are eligible for protection under the CDC’s eviction moratorium, please see our prior blog article on the topic at Federal Government Announces Residential Eviction Moratorium_9.2.2020 – DCDC Law: Divorce Mediation (ddcrwlaw.com)

If you have questions or would like to discuss these matters, please contact us at 508-541-3000.

This blog is for informational purposes only.  It should not be considered legal advice.  All those who read this blog should seek the advice of a professional before taking action based upon any information provided herein.

© 2020 Doherty, Dugan, Cannon, Raymond & Weil, P.C.

Article by Attorney Andrew Kepple

Attorney Andrew M. Kepple has more than 10 years of experience in state and federal courts, concentrating his practice in the areas of landlord-tenant law, civil litigation and employment law.

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