Housing Information for Tenants & LandlordsThis page is for informational purposes and is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, please see below for resources and contact information.
We (legislators) have prioritized rent and mortgage relief in the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan Act funding but that funding is only as helpful to the extent that people know it exists. There is $655.3 Million available for rent relief right now for those in Virginia impacted by COVID. Landlords and tenants can both apply. It would be a travesty for evictions to happen while that money is available only because people did not know about it being there. So we have to help get the word out!
The General Assembly met for Special Session and we passed our Budget bill addressing the federal relief funding. The Governor signed it on August 10, 2021. Read more here.
Some of the 2020-2021 new laws Del. Price sponsored or co-sponsored help prevent or post-pone evictions:
60-day delay of eviction for most tenants & 30-day delay of foreclosure for homeowners
14 days pay or quit period (increased from 5 days), payment plans for tenants
Right of redemption cap lifted for most tenants
Tougher penalties for illegal evictions
In the Case of an Eviction
If you are facing an eviction, it is important that you act now.
Call 1-833-NO-EVICT or 1-866-LEGL-AID
The CDC Federal Eviction Moratorium has been extended with some stipulations. Here is more information from the Virginia Poverty Law Center:
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s order that protects some residential tenants who have fallen behind on rent from being evicted has been extended to October 3, 2021.
What Does the Order Stop?
- It stops the landlord from taking action to evict a tenant for unpaid rent, including:
- Asking the court for a ‘writ of eviction’
- Sheriff conducting the eviction
- Harassing or intimidating a tenant to vacate
Who Does the Order Help?
The CDC moratorium only applies to tenants living in areas with “high” or “substantial” rates of COVID-19. To see if your area of covered, visit https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view. (As of August 21st, this includes all 7 cities in Hampton Roads.)
Tenants who are unable to pay the full rent amount and meet each of these three requirements:
- Do not have high income,
- Earn less than $99,000 ($198,000 for a couple) in 2020, or
- Received a stimulus payment from the government in 2020, or
- Made too little in 2019 to have to file a federal tax return
- Have a substantial loss of income or high medical expenses, and
3. Would be homeless or would have to move in with others if evicted.
What Must You Do?
- Continue to pay as much rent as you can.
- Apply for government rental and housing assistance, if available. Document your efforts!
- To see if you qualify for state rental assistance, visit https://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/rmrp
- Each adult on the lease signs a declaration under penalty of perjury and gives it to the landlord.
- Here is the C.D.C.’s declaration:
- Keep a signed copy for your records.
- Contact a lawyer for advice before signing if you have any questions about the declaration: 1-833-NoEvict or 1-866-LEGLAID.
What are the Limits?
- Landlords can still evict for non-rent lease violations.
- This order does not forgive rent – tenants still owe rent as the lease provides.
- There are criminal penalties (for both tenants and landlords) for violating the rules of the order.
Changes to Federal & State Evictions Protections (as of 8/5/21)
Federal CDC Eviction Moratorium extended to October 3, 2021:
The CDC Eviction Moratorium has been extended to October 3, 2021. It applies only in areas with “high” or “substantial” COVID-19 transmission rates. To get this protection against being evicted for unpaid rent, tenants must sign and give their landlord a copy of the CDC Declaration.
- 60-Day Continuance of Eviction Case:
If you have lost income at any point during the pandemic and are being sued for unpaid rent, you may have the right to a 60-day continuance of your eviction case.
This will not make your case go away. It gives you more time to catch up on rent or find new housing. This option is available until September 28, 2021.
What do I need to do to get the 60-day delay?
- Show up to your first court date.
- Bring written proof that you lost income between March 12, 2020 and June 30, 2021. (For example, paystubs showing lower income, a letter from your employer, paperwork from your unemployment benefits application, bank statements showing lower deposits, etc. If you do not have access to those documents, the court may accept an affidavit, a sample of which can be found here.)
- Ask the judge for a 60-day “continuance.” Be prepared to answer questions about how the loss of income is due to COVID, like if your hours were cut because the employer lost business or you had to stay home to watch children home from school, etc.
Rental assistance is available for tenants behind on rent.
To see if you are eligible and to apply online, visit dhcd.virginia.gov/eligibility To apply over the phone, call 703-962-1884.
Need assistance applying? Legal aid can help! Call the Eviction Legal Helpline at 833-NoEvict or your local legal aid office at 866-534-5243.
State Eviction Protections ended June 30, 2021:
Starting July 1, 2021, landlords can take legal action to evict tenants for unpaid rent even if they refuse to cooperate with the Virginia Rent Relief Program (RRP). Landlords do not have to wait for tenants’ RRP applications to be approved.
Until then, your landlord cannot evict you for unpaid rent UNLESS:
- Your landlord gives you a written notice letting you know how much you owe. The notice must:
- Your landlord applies for RRP on your behalf within 14 days of sending you the notice. Your landlord should be able to get you RRP assistance faster than you can on your own. If you tell your landlord you are applying for the RRP yourself, they are not required to apply for you.
- Rent relief is denied for the one of the following reasons:
- You refused to apply for the RRP and refused to cooperate with your landlord in applying for the RRP;
- The RRP application is not approved by the agency within 45 days after it was submitted; or
- The application was denied because you are ineligible for rent relief.
- Your landlord does not have to apply for RRP if the program runs out of money.
Landlords who own 5 or more rental units must take an extra step before evicting you for non-payment:
The landlord must offer you a payment plan without late fees. The landlord cannot evict you unless you refuse to enter into the payment plan or miss a payment. But the landlord only has to enter you into a payment plan one time per lease period. You can enter the payment plan AND apply for the RMRP. To get on a payment plan you must:
- Agree to the payment plan in writing; and
- Give your landlord a signed statement that you have lost income and/or had increased expenses due to the COVID-19 crisis. Click here for a sample statement.
For free information and legal advice from an attorney about your case, call the Eviction Legal Helpline (833-NoEvict) or your local legal aid ofice (866-LEGLAID). For more information, visit housing.vplc.org.
Apply for Rent Relief
To apply for rent relief go to https://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/rmrp or call 703-962-1884 - You do not have to wait until an eviction to apply for relief! Landlords and tenants can apply!
Check the Status of Rent Relief Request
To get an update about an application submitted through the RRP Support Center, check your application status at https://applications.deval.us/. If you are unable to determine your status on the website, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your last name and application number in the subject line, along with a brief explanation of what happened when you tried to check your status on the website.
Upon signature of the Governor, the new budget will include $258 million for Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) to be used for assistance with mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, utility payments, and other specified purposes. Stay tuned for more information on how to apply.
Upon the Governor's signature of the new budget, there will be a moratorium on Dominion Energy disconnections for low-income customers until March 1, 2022. There is also $120M added to continue Virginia's utility assistance program for accounts over 60 days behind.
Information from Virginia Poverty Law Center:
- Struggling to pay utilities? Enter into an extended payment plan with your utility provider – Electricity, Gas, Water, and Wastewater
- Plans of up to 24 months can be initiated through August 27th – Sign up NOW with each utility where you owe even a small balance.
- If you pay any of your utilities through your landlord and they are mentioned in the lease, Virginia Rent Relief funds can cover those.
- City of Newport News Waterworks – Customer Services 757-926-1039
- Utility authorities have received more funds for arrearages, call to find out if they have any other assistance available after asking about the payment plan options.
- Dominion Energy – EnergyShare Utility Assistance program and Energy efficiency help.
- Not limited to just help on your Dominion bill but can be used for other utility assistance need, such as gas heating.
- Twice per year - up to $300 (June 1st through September 30th) and up to $600 (October 1st through May 31st.)
- Go to the Salvation Army-Peninsula 757-838-4875 to check eligibility and sign-up details.
- Department of social services crisis assistance: https://www.dss.virginia.gov/benefit/ea/ has all the options including COVID-19 related utility assistance, and heating and cooling season assistance, up to $300.
- Call the VPLC utility helpline: 804-313-9363
For More Information
Stay Home Virginia - https://www.stayhomevirginia.com/
Virginia Poverty Law Center - https://housing.vplc.org/
Peninsula Housing Crisis Hotline - 757-587-4202
Del. Price's Office Email - DelMPrice@house.virginia.gov
Del. Price's Office Phone (call or text) - 757-266-5935
Watch for More Info
On August 3, 2021, Del. Price joined Laura Dobbs of Virginia Poverty Law Center to present important information for tenants and landlords at a rent relief event hosted by Maxwell Realty, the Newport News Branch of the NAACP, and New Beech Grove. You can watch the replay here:
Also, on July 24, 2021, Del Price joined the City of Newport News, Virginia Poverty Law Center, Legal Aid, and Tidewater Tenants Rights to host a "Know Your Rights" seminar for tenants to learn more about housing laws, rent relief, and resources available. You can watch that seminar here. If your organization, faith group, or business would like to host a virtual or in-person seminar to help spread the word, please contact Del. Price at 757-266-5935 or DelMPrice@house.virginia.gov
Flyers for More Info - Please Share!
Information provided by the Virginia Poverty Law Center
Last Update: August 21, 2021