Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority could evict some families starting in August
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) have roughly 824 households on repayment plans for delinquent balances. That total stands at around $1 million. As of last month, 693 households had fallen behind on those payments. Evictions could resume as early as August.
“Before this moratorium, RHHA was historically one of the most aggressive eviction filers in the city. I think in 2018, they filed eviction cases against the families living in their communities at a rate of about 43%,” said Victoria Horrock, Legal Aid Justice Center.
Under mounting pressure from tenant advocates in late 2019, the housing authority halted evictions for the remainder of that year, thanks in part, due to Legal Aid Justice Center advocacy. RRHA extended its freeze through spring 2020 for people to catch up. Then the pandemic hit, making it even harder for some folks.
“We’re really concerned if they are planning to go back to those practices, and we’re urging them not to do so and to just keep eviction as a last resort in public safety situations,” Horrock said.
In Virginia, the expiration of a state of emergency in June ended certain protections. Others remain, including a rule requiring large landlords, like the housing authority, to offer payment plans to renters.
If a renter can prove they weren’t able to pay rent due to COVID-19 impacts, the law requires eviction proceedings to be extended through September, but after that, they’re out of luck.
“We are urging them not to just wholesale evict tenants again and to use evictions as a collections mechanism but to hold it as a last resort opportunity. They’re not a for-profit landlord. They’re not trying to turn a profit,” said Horrock.
Virginia Protections on Evictions:
- Governor Ralph Northam has made affordable housing and eviction protections a top priority before and throughout this pandemic. Many protections are set to remain in place for weeks to years after the state of emergency ends:
- Protections for tenants for previous non-payments due to COVID-19 will last for 30 days after the end of the emergency order. Negative action against rental applicants (based on non-payment of rent because of the pandemic) will remain in place for seven years after the SOE expires.
- Current law requires a court to grant a 90-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.
- 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.
- In 2020, Governor Northam and the General Assembly funded an eviction prevention and diversion pilot program, passed a law capping late fees for tenants at 10%, and a law prohibiting discrimination based on source of income.
In addition, Virginia has distributed over $260 million in rent relief funding throughout the pandemic, and this support will continue to be available to tenants and landlords who need it, even after the emergency lifts. The Governor will continue to work with advocates and the legislature to ensure Virginians have access to safe, secure, and affordable housing.
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