‘It’s the landlord’s burden’: Legal Aid Justice Centers says landlords must help tenants secure renters relief

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 7:09 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2021 at 7:12 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Brittany Grantham works as a restaurant server, but like so many others during the pandemic, she says got her hours cut.

“I’m behind on rent,” Grantham says.

Grantham says in recent weeks she has gone back to working 40 hours a week and has been paying off her past-due bill in increments. She believes with enough time she can be caught back up.

“I’ve already paid about $1,500 and I only have about $2,400 left,” Grantham said. “Within 30 days I can definitely do that.”

But Grantham says despite paying off nearly half of her past due rent she was stills served with an eviction notice on Oct. 7 with only 14 days to cover her remaining balance. Grantham says she’s has tried applying for renters relief, but needs her Landlord’s help who after several attempts has not returned Grathams’s calls or emails.

NBC12 Investigators also reached out to Grantham’s landlord’s but at this time they have not returned our calls.

“I don’t even know how much time I have other than I had 14 days after I had the five-day notice,” Grantham said. “Basically, I’m just sitting here waiting for a phone call to be returned or an email to be returned.”

Grantham fears her family may soon have no place to go, but according to the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC), her landlord should have already begun the process to help her receive relief.

“Under the COVID-related protections that are built into the budget and don’t expire until 2022, it’s not the tenant’s burden to apply for rent relief, it’s actually the landlord’s burden,” Carrie Klosko said.

Klosko workes with the LAJC and says Landlords have a legal obligation to help tenants secure renters’ relief and must submit the application for it during the 14-day period on the notice before a landlord can file an eviction action in court.

“Then the landlord has to wait 45 days from the day the application is complete for it to process before they can even proceed with the eviction,” Klosko said.

Klosko says sometimes landlords may not know this information, but if tenant like Grantham finds themselves in a situation where they are being served with eviction papers without first receiving renters relief it can be defended in court.

“She really needs to get in touch with a legal aid attorney who can use that as a defense,” Klosko said.

If would like assistance with a rent relief application, you can call the Virginia Legal Aid hotline at 866-534-5243. You can also get additional resources HERE.

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