The State of Georgia Rental Assistance Program
Optimism is warranted, but as the country and the world progress in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, substantial uncertainties abound. Those uncertainties include bridging the gap for landlords, renters, and utility providers seeking to maintain a most basic social need – roofs over renters’ heads. Renters around the country are on the brink of eviction and the demand for rental assistance programs throughout American communities is soaring. Fortunately, in Georgia some relief is in sight.
Lawyers have been trained to avoid using a general warranty deed when representing a client in a real estate transaction or when conveying property between related entities or individuals. In instances of dissolution, merger, a transfer from individuals to a majority owned entity or a transfer between other related parties, where there is not a concern of a claim to title, a Quit Claim Deed is erroneously believed to be the type of deed of choice. While not intending to cause an issue with the client’s title insurance, the use of a Quit Claim Deed, in these situations, may void any existing Owner’s Title Insurance Policy in Georgia by canceling the “continuation of insurance.” Even for this seemingly minor assistance to a client, it is critical to ask a knowledgeable real estate attorney and check the jacket of the client’s Owner’s Title Insurance Policy to determine how “continuation of insurance” is applied and how the “Insured” is defined. For example, “Continuation of Insurance” can only be maintained if the “Insured” shall have liability by reason of warranties in any transfer or conveyance of the Title.”
As part of the Florida legislature’s effort to raise awareness of human trafficking – labor and commercial sex trafficking – it passed legislation requiring “public lodging establishments” to post signage regarding human trafficking in a conspicuous location accessible to employees. While subject to some exclusions, public lodging establishments include apartment buildings along with other property types.
A lender that forecloses a security deed on Georgia real property, realizes at the public sale a price less than the debt, and wants to pursue the borrower for the deficiency, must go before a court in a “confirmation action.” If the judge “confirms” the foreclosure sale by finding that the lender followed the rules and that the foreclosure brought the fair value for the property, then the lender may legally go against the borrower for the deficiency. The Georgia Supreme Court in 2016 confirmed that a lender must also confirm a foreclosure sale before pursuing a deficiency against a guarantor. PNC Bank, Nat'l Ass'n v. Smith, 298 Ga. 818, 819, 785 S.E.2d 505, 507, 2016 Ga. LEXIS 267, 2016 WL 1276376.
In response to surging case numbers and crowded hospitals, Governor Kemp last week updated the requirements of the statewide Executive Order for the first time in several weeks. The update explicitly adopts a quarantine requirement for Georgians exposed to COVID-19 and imposes an obligation on certain businesses regarding such persons. The requirement does not apply to all businesses in Georgia, and it imposes different requirements on different kinds of businesses.
This Alert will describe the quarantine protocol and its general application to businesses in Georgia. We will publish additional guidance later this week regarding specific application of the quarantine protocol to children’s Camps, Live Performance Venues, and gyms and fitness centers.
The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 was signed into law by President Trump on December 27. Section 502 of the Act extended the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Order of September 4, 2020 which temporarily halts residential evictions for failure to pay rent until January 31, 2021. The original order is discussed in more detail in a law alert from September 3rd, which can be found here.
The City of Atlanta recently adopted a new ordinance – called by some “Renter’s Choice” – requiring landlords, in certain circumstance, to provide residential tenants with choices about how they pay security deposits.
On October 2, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a Procedural Notice to provide information concerning required procedures for a “change in ownership” of an entity that has received a paycheck protection program (PPP) loan. Prior to issuance of this Procedural Notice, the SBA regulations that govern PPP loans did not expressly address asset acquisitions/sales or even provide a detailed definition of “change of ownership” for borrowers. Further, while most PPP loan documents required the PPP lender to consent prior to a “change of ownership,” the term “change in ownership” was not defined. This lack of guidance and undefined language in the PPP loan documents left PPP borrowers who wanted to accomplish an asset acquisition/sale, sale of common stock or ownership or merger at risk of defaulting on their PPP loan covenants, which would require immediate repayment of their PPP loan.
On August 8, 2020, President Trump directed his administration to prevent residential evictions and foreclosures resulting from financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, his Executive Order (EO) states that the administration will take all legal measures needed to prevent this activity. In order to prevent the further spread of the virus, the EO tasks the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to consider measures to temporarily prohibit residential evictions for failure to pay rent due to COVID-19 hardships.
Because of required closures and other challenges facing businesses during this pandemic, many tenants are unable to meet lease obligations and/or asking for concessions from landlords. Rather than wasting precious resources arguing about whether the tenant’s performance is excused based on force majeure, frustration of purpose or other legal concept, consider strategizing with your tenant to come to a mutually acceptable solution. When developing a working solution with your tenants, consider: What do you as landlord need at a bare minimum? What does your tenant need? Are there creative solutions to be had? What resources are available?
- Kyle M. Baker
- Alexandra Rason Coons
- Clinton “Tres” Dye, III
- George C. Gaskin
- Mitzi L. Hill
- Lauren Parsons Langham
- Kevin P. Langley
- LaTise Miller
- Christina L. Moore
- Gregory G. Schultz
- John Taylor