Virginia gets low marks for pandemic eviction protections

Deputies from the Henrico County Sheriff's Department process an eviction on July 12, 2018. The...
Deputies from the Henrico County Sheriff's Department process an eviction on July 12, 2018. The tenants had already departed and the deputies, after checking the unit to make sure it's empty, watch as the owner changes the unit's locks.(Virginia Mercury)
Published: Apr. 21, 2020 at 5:07 PM EDT
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Evictions are frozen in Virginia until the state court system reopens, possibly as soon as the end of the month.

But how do the state’s efforts to help keep people in their homes amid an unprecedented pandemic compare to other states?

Not especially well, according to Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, which reviewed policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Virginia came in 31, noting that while evictions have been paused, there’s nothing from stopping landlords from initiating the process by demanding tenants pay and filing eviction lawsuits that will be heard when courts reopen.

“Without further action and supportive measures, Virginia could see a surge of evictions immediately following the pandemic,” the researchers wrote.

Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut, Nevada and Minnesota scored highest, with researchers citing bans on late fees, grace periods to pay rent and temporary orders preventing landlords from threatening and filing eviction lawsuits.

Virginia’s ranking could improve tomorrow if lawmakers agree to two legislative amendments proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam. One would give tenants an extra two months to catch up on rent after courts reopen. Another would immediately enact a 10 percent cap on late fees.


The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.

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