Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of the MaineCDC, reported this afternoon that an additional congregate housing setting has reported four individuals with COVID-19. It is Falmouth by the Sea, ( a private facility) at 191 Foreside Road, Falmouth and it has reported four cases including staff. It is the fifth congregate housing facility in Maine to report confirmed cases of COVID-19. Dr. Shah announced a shipment of PPE is currently on the way to the facility.
Dr. Shah announced there have been three additional deaths since yesterday, bringing the total up to 27 – an increase of 3 from yesterday. They include two women and one man in their 70s and 80s. The number of confirmed cases with COVID-19 is now 796 – an increase of 26 from yesterday.
Governor Janet Mills announced at the daily briefing that she had signed an executive order that will prevent the immediate eviction of tenants other than those who engage in dangerous or unlawful conduct for the duration of the State of Emergency. The Governor also strengthened the penalties for landlords who may try to evict tenants by unlawful means and she extended the timeframe for the eviction process in the event that the courts reopen before the Governor’s State of Emergency is terminated.
Additionally, the Governor, in partnership with Maine Housing, announced a new rental assistance relief program for Maine people who cannot pay their rent due to COVID-19. The $5 million COVID-19 Rent Relief Program will allow households that meet certain income and ability to pay requirements to receive a one-time, up to $500. payment in rental assistance to be paid directly to the landlord.
Also, in letters sent to Maine financial institutions, the Governor also urged all financial institutions to provide work proactively with Maine homeowners and small businesses experiencing financial hardship from COVID-19 to help keep them in their homes and storefronts.
The Governor’s Executive Order protects tenants against whom these writs of possession – the final document allowing the eviction – that were authorized before the Court’s March 18th order, budt which is not yet been issued by a court or served by a sheriff. The Order states that these write should not be issued or served.
Additionally, in response to concerns that some landlords are attempting to unlawfully evict their tenants by, for example, turning off utilities such as electricity, the Governor’s Executive Order strengthens the enforcement actions that can be taken against landlords who attempt to evict tenants from their home or storefront of the legal process. Because such evictions during this period of emergency would violate the Order, the legal action that should be taken against them if they attempted to do so to up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
Finally, the Governor’s Order protects tenants who are considered “at will,” meaning they do not have a legal agreement with their landlord, and because of COVID-19 cannot make their rent payment, by requiring a landlord to provide at least 60 days notice, rather than 30, to a tenant to leave. If the landlord is attempting to evict those at will tenants, the Order also extends an eviction notice time fame from 7 to 30 days.
Please see post herein dated April 15, 2020 for more background information on MaineCDC daily briefings.