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Renter protection ends. Now experts say Virginia evictions will spike: 'We’re already seeing it tick up'

Posted at 4:51 PM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 18:19:53-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Landlords are no longer required to apply for rent relief on behalf of their tenants, nor give tenants any information on how to apply for rent relief on their own.

The 14-day notice for renters to either pay rent or leave the property will be shorted to five days starting July 1, 2022.

Landlords with more than five properties will also no longer be required to offer payment plans for tenants.

The average rent in Richmond was $1,415 a month, up 11.5% more than in 2021.

Victoria Horrock, with Legal Aid Justice Center, said despite these pandemic-era eviction protections ending, the need for help will not.

"Virginia has historically been one of the highest evicting states in the country, " Horrock said. "Especially low-income communities, communities of color across the state, are by no means out of the pandemic, especially economically, so tenants are not back on their feet yet in a lot of places." 

Part of the issue comes down to the housing market.

Limited housing options place a burden on both tenants and landlords. 

"Maybe we can work together," Christie Marra, the Director of Housing Advocacy at the Virginia Poverty Law Center, said. "Because if they have more housing available, if their housing is stable and they're able to pay their bills, that can only help tenants." 

According to research from VCU's "RVA Eviction Labs," Richmond's southernmost neighborhoods had the most eviction judgments during the pandemic, compared to other areas in the city.

According to a survey the lab released, roughly 58% of Virginians worry about being evicted. 

During the pandemic, more than 32,000 eviction judgments were issued across the Commonwealth, even with protections in place.

Horrock said now the protections are coming to an end, the number of eviction cases will rise.

“We’re already seeing it tick up. I think some very eager-to-file landlords are going ahead and filing these cases,” Horrock said.

Governor Glenn Youngkin addressed the issue the day before the protections come to an end.

“I know that there are folks that have challenges in meeting rent and mortgage payments. They are particular programs that are already in existence to help them," Governor Youngkin said. "The overarching COVID relief package does expire tomorrow, and I think this is appropriate on our steps back to normalcy.”

But to Horrock, going back to normal is not the direction the Commonwealth should go.

"We don’t want to go back to normal. Most of the top evicting cities in the country are in Virginia, I don’t think that’s a normal we want to go back to," she said. "And the rental market is only harder to sort of stay in for a lot of tenants now than it was in the years before the pandemic, so we’re actually going to be facing a worse situation for low-income tenants than we were, pre-COVID-19.”

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

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