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Proposed Bill Would Provide Mortgage and Rent Relief to DC Residents

by Nena Perry-Brown

Dupont Circle. By Ted Eytan.

Two weeks after the DC Council unanimously passed emergency COVID response legislation, a supplemental bill is in the works to expand the protections offered in light of the pandemic.

DC Council Chair Phil Mendelson has requested to put the COVID-19 Response Supplemental Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 on the council's agenda next week.

The bill offers relief for both tenants and landlords, starting with a requirement that mortgage servicers on residential and commercial loans allow affected mortgagees to defer mortgage payments for at least 90 days. The deferment program must also include waiving any late fees or other ancillary fees and refraining from reporting derogatory marks to credit bureaus.

Any landlord mortgagee granted deferments must reduce the rent of its tenants during the duration of the deferment period, at a rate proportionate to the reduced mortgage payments. Mortgagees would then either make the deferred payments at the conclusion of the original term, or via some other arrangement made with the servicer. 

Tenants would also be exempted from rent increases if the increase would have taken effect during or was communicated during the public health emergency.

The bill also clarifies the rules around unemployment insurance and paid leave, adds a "wage replacement program" for workers who aren't eligible for unemployment insurance, and bans debt collectors from initiating communication with debtors.

Other provisions in the bill include a tax credit for affected small retailers and a ban on cutting off phone or cable service for nonpayment through 15 days after the emergency is lifted. The bill also enables the city to borrow up to $300 million to meet financial obligations through the end of the fiscal year (September 30th).

All provisions of the COVID Response bills would be valid at least through the duration of the public health emergency. 

UrbanTurf's Coverage of COVID-19 

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/proposed-supplemental-dc-covid-bill-greatly-expands-tenant-protections/16676

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