The District of Columbia Federal Worker Housing Relief Emergency Act of 2019, B23-0080, was unanimously passed by the Council of the District of Columbia (DC Council) on Jan. 22, 2019. It still must be signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser to become law and will remain in effect for only 90 days after it has been signed by the Mayor. The purpose of the Act is to protect federal workers and employees of contractors (contract employees) of the federal government who have been furloughed during a government shutdown, including the current shutdown, and their household members (collectively, Federal Employee Households) from eviction, late fees and foreclosure sales. The Act covers "Housing Units," which are defined broadly as "any room or group or rooms forming a single-family residential unit, including an apartment, semi-detached condominium, cooperative, or semi-detached or detached home that is used or intended to be used for living, sleeping, and the preparation and eating of meals by human occupants." The Act was introduced by Councilmember At-Large Anita Bonds, Chairperson of the Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization.
The Act covers the period from the date of the federal worker's first unpaid payday during the shutdown through the earlier of 1) 30 days after the effective date of an appropriations act or continuing resolution that funds a federal worker's government agency, or 2) 90 days after the date of the federal worker's first unpaid payday. The period covered for a contract employee begins from the date the contract employee was laid off or otherwise stops receiving pay because of the shutdown through the earlier of 1) 30 days after the effective date of an appropriations act or continuing resolution that funds the agency that the contractor has a contract, or 2) 90 days after the contract employee is laid off or otherwise stops receiving pay because of the shutdown.
The Act does not protect individuals who do not fall into one of the protected categories who may be indirectly affected by a shutdown, such as small business owners of delis, restaurants, etc., who rely on income from customers who work in the federal government.
Federal workers and contract employees are required under the Act to provide to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (Superior Court) or Foreclosure Mediation Administrator (Mediation Administrator) one of the following documents in order to prove that they are in fact a federal worker:
A contract employee must provide a letter from their contractor, signed by an officer, owner of the company or the company's human resources director, stating:
A household member who is party to a rental agreement subject to eviction or a residential mortgage subject to a foreclosure proceeding is eligible under the Act if the household member submits to the court or Mediation Administrator specific documentation that the federal worker or contract employee resides in the same household. The household member must provide any two of the following items that displays the name and household address of the federal worker or contract worker, including but not limited to:
Documentation must also be provided that the federal worker or contract worker contributes at least 25 percent of the monthly rent or mortgage payment. The documentation includes cancelled checks, bank statements, electronic payment records or receipts. However, household members who are not a federal worker or contract employee must continue to pay their percentage of the rent or mortgage payment in a timely manner. If they do not, that constitutes grounds for lifting the stay.
If a housing provider initiates eviction proceedings in the Landlord and Tenant Branch of the Superior Court against a Federal Employee Household during the covered period, the Federal Employee Household may move the court to stay proceedings until the covered period expires. Under the Act, the court must grant the motion to stay the proceedings if the court determines that the Federal Employee Household has submitted the required documentation necessary to establish their eligibility for relief under the Act. The Federal Employee Household may also move the court to void late fees charged by the housing provider, as applicable. The court is required to grant the motion if the late fees accrued during the covered period.
If a lender initiates a foreclosure proceeding in the Superior Court against a Federal Employee Household during the covered period, an eligible Federal Employee Household may move the court to stay the proceeding until the covered period expires. As with the eviction proceedings, the court must grant the motion to stay the proceedings if the court determines that the Federal Employee Household submitted the required documentation necessary to establish its eligibility for relief under the Act.
If a foreclosure proceeding had been initiated and was in foreclosure mediation as required by the "Saving D.C. Homes From Foreclosure Amendment Act of 2010" and if the borrower is a Federal Employee Household, the Mediation Administrator designated by the District of Columbia's Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking is required to stay the mediation and cannot issue a mediation certificate, evidencing compliance with the mediation requirements (under the Saving D.C. Homes From Foreclosure Amendment Act of 2010) to the lender until the covered period expires. If the Mediation Administrator issued a mediation certificate and the lender gave written notice of its intention to foreclose on a residential mortgage held by a Federal Employee Household that is eligible for relief during the covered period but prior to the effective date of the Act, the Federal Employee Household may petition the Superior Court to stay a sale until the covered period expires.
Information contained in this alert is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly changing. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, we urge you to consult competent legal counsel.
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