Resources for Renters

* * * * * NEWS UPDATES * * * * *

Virginia Rent Relief Program (RRP). Do you or someone you know need help with rental payments? To see if you’re eligible, call 2-1-1 from any phone or visit dhcd.virginia.gov/eligibility. Landlords and tenants are encouraged to apply as the RRP has plenty of funding available, regardless of status of eviction moratoriums or state protections. If you think or know you cannot make your next rent payment, apply immediately or have your landlord apply immediately to the Virginia RRP.

SCOTUS rules against the CDC Eviction Moratorium, ending federal protection for renters in High Risk Communities. This decision does not affect any Virginia eviction protections. More information on Virginia’s Rent Relief Program (RRP) and other state law protections is below.

Certain state law protections for tenants for previous non-payments due to COVID-19 remain in effect:
 

  • Current law requires landlords and tenants to cooperate with each other in matters regarding nonpayment of rent and applying for rental assistance based on income eligibility and availability of rental assistance funds. If you feel like this isn’t happening, you should contact an attorney to learn more about your legal rights.
     

  • Current law requires a court to grant a 60-day continuance of eviction proceedings when a tenant can demonstrate to the court that the failure to pay was due to COVID-19; this provision will remain in effect through the end of September, 90 days after the state of emergency expires.
     

  • Late fees must be limited to 10% of the monthly rent amount or the amount of past due rent a tenant owes, whichever is less. This is state law and has no expiration date.
     

  • The prohibition against negative action by a landlord who owns more than four rental units against an applicant for tenancy (based on non-payment of rent because of the pandemic) will remain in place for seven years after the state of emergency expires (the state of emergency expired 6/30/2021).
     

  • Current law also allows 14 days for a tenant to make a missed payment (previously this was five days) before a landlord can serve them with a pay or quit notice — this is in effect until July 1, 2022. As part of that law, landlords that own more than four rental dwelling units must offer a payment plan along with the pay or quit notice.
     

  • For those who receive rental assistance or get on a payment plan with their landlord and make timely payments, a landlord must mark a payment as current if the landlord reports missed payments to a credit reporting agency. This is in effect 120 days after the date on which the national emergency expires. The national emergency is still in effect.
     

  • Also, under the Virginia Fair Housing Law, it is an unlawful discriminatory housing practice to refuse to rent, refuse to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise make unavailable or deny a dwelling to a person because of source of funds (defined to include any assistance, benefit, or subsidy program).

Help for Renters: If you're having trouble making rent payments as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, you're not alone. Fortunately, federal, state and local governments are taking action to offer relief. Learn more

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam is focused on keeping Virginians in their homes and ensuring people experiencing homelessness are provided shelter. The Governor and General Assembly have passed legislation that caps late fees on rent and provides additional state COVID-19-related protections from evictions and foreclosure. These are short-term protections, as rent will continue to accrue. The key during this unprecedented time is knowing your rights, knowing the housing counseling services available to you, and communicating with your landlord.

If You Can’t Pay Your Rent:
 

  • Apply for Rental Assistance through the Virginia Rent Relief Program, know your rights, seek housing counseling assistance and talk to your landlord.
     

  • If you are a Housing Choice Voucher recipient, contact your voucher agency as soon as possible so they can work with you toward a solution. Housing Choice Voucher recipients are eligible to receive rental assistance through the RRP.

  • Understand the consequences. Even though certain protections have been in place and even if your landlord allows you to skip one or more payments, the rent will need to be repaid eventually. Tenants may fall under various state and federal protections, but some property owners may be able to collect full payment or raise your rent to recover missed payments. Be sure to discuss this with your landlord and double-check that advice with a housing counselor or legal representation so you understand any potential future consequences of skipping rental payments now, and the specifics of what protections are available to you.

 

  • Provide documentation: Provide your landlord proof that you have been financially impacted by COVID-19.

 

  • Ask for a grace period: If you just need a bit of extra time before you can make rent payments again, request a grace period from your landlord to make your payments and have your late fees waived. Most landlords understand and will be willing to work with you on this.

 

  • Discuss your payment plan options: To avoid having to pay a lump sum payment of your past-due rent, request a payment plan from your landlord and have it spread over a longer period of time. Once you agree on a payment plan, ask for the plan in writing. Landlords are required to offer a payment plan if they own 5 or more units per the Code of Virginia on a pay or quit notice.

  • The Virginia Residential Landlord-Tenant Handbook provides guidelines for tenant and landlord rights. For tenants in hotels or motels, if the room or suite has been the tenant’s primary residence for more than 90 days or there is a written lease for at least 90 days, it is illegal for a landlord to evict the tenant without getting a court order and involving the sheriff’s office.
     

  • If you are facing eviction, if your landlord attempts to lock you out without taking you to court, or if you have questions about your rights, contact Virginia Legal Aid by calling 1-866-LEGL-AID or get legal advice from the Eviction Legal Helpline by calling 1-833-NoEvict.
     

  • Please do pay your rent if you are able, as these costs will continue to accumulate. The Virginia Poverty Law Center has created a website dedicated to COVID-19 Legal Response in Virginia.


Managing Your Debt:
 

If you have debt, you should pay it off in the following order, as a general rule:

  1. Rental payments

  2. Outstanding utility bills

  3. Car payments

  4. Other outstanding debt