Several coronavirus (“COVID-19”) response bills were introduced in the New Jersey Senate this past week. Among them is the “COVID-19 Financial Security for Consumers Act,” which aims to prohibit creditors and debt collectors from collection activities during the pandemic and requires health insurance carriers to cover treatment for COVID-19. A summary of the bill indicates that it will “prohibit certain debt collection activities” without going into specifics about which activities will be restricted.
New Jersey senators have introduced more than two dozen bills aimed at providing relief for residents within the past week. Some of the other notable proposed measures seek to require landlords who have received mortgage relief under the public health emergency to pass that onto their tenants as rent relief. Another bill seeks to create a $100 million emergency rental assistance program within the Department of Community Affairs for tenants who are at least 30 days behind on their payments and have suffered financial hardship because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
New Jersey is not the only state with these proposed measures. Many states are enacting legislation or emergency regulations aimed at protecting consumers and providing relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which include Massachusetts taking steps to restrict contact with individuals about their debt, North Carolina deferring debt payments for 30 days, and a bill introduced in South Carolina seeking a moratorium on collection of medical debt. A representative from Ohio recently introduced a bill curbing all debt collection for the duration of the pandemic.
Troutman Sanders will continue to monitor these emergency regulations and bills as they are proposed and adopted by local, state, and federal governments.