Legal Aid Justice Center says some assistance still available after eviction moratorium expires

Published: Jul. 31, 2021 at 8:05 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As of Saturday night, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s federal moratorium on eviction expires, ending many of the protections keeping tenants from being evicted.

But even after the program expires, Brenda Castaneda with the Legal Aid Justice Center, or LAJC, explains there is still available assistance for tenants facing eviction.

Castaneda said tenants can still ask the court for a 60-day extension if they are being evicted and they lost income due to COVID-19. That lasts until Sept. 28.

“If you’re being evicted for rent you can still apply for rent relief through the Department of Housing and Community Development through the state,” Castaneda said. “So you should immediately go do that or ask your landlord to do that for you.”

Not only that, Governor Ralph Northam’s proposed budget for the General Assembly special session, which begins Monday, could reinstate some state eviction protections if passed.

This would protect tenants who are facing eviction for nonpayment of rent, have qualified for unemployment, or lost income or incurred costs due to the pandemic.

According to the LAJC, landlords would also be required to apply for the Virginia Rent Relief Program on behalf of tenants within 14 days of a pay-or-quit notice. Or, they must cooperate with their tenant’s relief application before terminating a residential residency.

“That would still require landlords to apply for rent relief or to wait for the tenants to do so before evicting for rent,” Castaneda said.

If these protections are enacted, they would be in place until next June.

“We’re especially appreciative to see Governor Northam and the General Assembly planning ahead and understanding tenants continue to need these safeguards in place for some time, as this pandemic is far from over,” the LAJC said.

“What folks should do if they support extending those protections until June of 2022 is contact their delegates and tell them how important it is to pass this,” Castaneda said.

But even if passed the budget wouldn’t be a total safeguard. It wouldn’t:

  1. prevent evictions other than for nonpayment of rent;
  2. protect tenants who can’t prove pandemic-related financial hardship;
  3. protect some tenants with a valid judgment of possession against them before this budget’s effective date.

In the meantime, The Legal Aid Justice Center says you should contact your local legal aid and see if you can get assistance applying for relief. You can do so at this link.

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