NSO public notice regarding evictions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic
This advisement is to let both landlords and tenants know about very recent developments in the law that may affect their respective rights.
The Virginia Supreme Court has continued in effect the Declaration of Judicial Emergency which has allowed evictions for other than nonpayment of rent since early September 2020. However the following Q and A format will bring our citizens up to date on the latest developments.
Q. Can a tenant still be evicted for violations of the lease OTHER THAN non-payment of rent?
A. Yes, the purpose of the moratorium and the recent changes to state law is to address financial hardship from loss of income due to COVID related closures.
Q. What if a tenant owes rent ?
A. Recent changes to the law state that if the landlord owns 4 (four) or fewer rental dwelling units and the tenant fails to pay rent within 14 (fourteen) days after written notice is served on the tenant notifying the tenant of his nonpayment and the rent is not paid within that period the landlord may petition to obtain possession of the premises and to cancel the lease. If the landlord owns more than 4 (four) rental dwelling units the landlord must give the 14(fourteen) day notice but also must offer the tenant a payment plan under which the tenant shall be required to pay the total amount due over a period of the lesser of 6 months or the time remaining on the rental agreement. The landlord must also provide information on the availability of the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program. See Code of Virginia 55.1-1245. This program may only be used ONCE during the period of any rental agreement.
Q. Are there any avenues for a tenant that still has difficulty paying the rent due to COVID closures?
A. if a tenant gets an evictions lawsuit filed against them for nonpayment and can prove that they lost income due to COVID 19 you may ask the court for a 60 (sixty) day continuance to give you additional time to work with the landlord to attempt to bring the rent arrearages current.
Q. Was the eviction moratorium regulation from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) extended past January 30, 2021?
A. Yes. The new Order recently entered allows for a “covered person” to seek the halt of a residential eviction for nonpayment of rent through March 31, 2021. It is up to the court to determine whether or not to provide or grant possession to the landlord. A covered person must establish that they have used all best efforts on to obtain government assistance for rent or housing, that they expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for calendar year 2020 – 2021, that they are unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, they are doing their best to make timely partial payments and an eviction would render them homeless.
Q. Is there anything else a tenant must do to use the CDC Eviction Moratorium to prevent eviction?
A. Yes. The tenant must present a filled out declaration form verifying the above factors to the court either in person or through their lawyer. The form is available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/declaration-form.pdf.
Questions about any of this should be directed to the Staff Attorney at (757) 664-4344.