With Northam’s signature, new eviction and utility cut-off protections take effect

With Northam’s signature, new eviction and utility cut-off protections take effect
Gov. Ralph Northam (Source: Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Gov. Ralph Northam signed a revised state budget Wednesday that restricts evictions and prohibits utilities from cutting off power, water and gas through the end of the state of emergency.

“This budget will help keep people in their homes with their lights on and their water running,” Northam said.

The new rules go into effect immediately.

The eviction protections are phased. Through the end of the year, landlords are now required to serve tenants who don’t pay their rent with a written notice informing them of the state’s rent relief program, which covers back rent. A landlord is allowed to proceed with an eviction only if the tenant refuses to apply or cooperate with a landlord’s effort to apply on their behalf.

The rule goes further than the current national moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control, which expires at the end of the year and required tenants to know their rights and actively contest efforts to evict them.

The restrictions loosen beginning Jan. 1, at which point landlords would still be required to notify tenants of the state’s rent relief program, but would be allowed to proceed with an eviction if the tenant is denied aid, the program runs out of money, or it takes the state longer than 14 days to make a payment.

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