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Virginia Supreme Court grants statewide eviction moratorium through September

Posted at 1:27 PM, Aug 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-08 13:25:34-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday that the Supreme Court of Virginia has granted his request for a statewide eviction moratorium through September 7.

The order halts all eviction proceedings in Virginia related to failure to pay rent, effective Monday, August 10.

The justices voted 4-to-3 in favor of it after receiving a request from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on July 24, asking that they renew the moratorium on evictions that expired on June 29.

Northam said the ruling is a critical step.

“Today’s decision comes at a time when we are still battling this public health crisis and need all Virginians to maintain safe, stable housing,” said Northam. “As the ongoing Congressional stalemate leaves hundreds of thousands of Virginians without federal housing protection or unemployment relief, this is a critical step towards keeping families safely in their homes."

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Northam said the eviction moratorium will provide his administration time to both work with the General Assembly to develop and pass a legislative package that will provide additional relief to those facing eviction and to expand financial assistance for tenants through their rent relief program.

On June 29, the governor launched the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program, using $50 million in federal CARES Act funding. Eligibility and application information is available here.

Since then, Northam says they have provided relief to more than 1,880 households that experienced economic hardship as a result of the pandemic.

"I am grateful to the Virginia Supreme Court for granting this order, and I look forward to working with the General Assembly this month to develop more permanent legislative protections for Virginia homeowners and tenants,” said Northam.

The announcement was applauded by the Virginia Poverty Law Center, but they added protections will be needed beyond September 7 and called on the governor and state lawmakers to stop all evictions.

Meanwhile the Virginia Apartment Management Association expressed disappointment with the ruling, saying that it kicks the can down the road.

Virginia’s apartment industry has performed admirably under extremely dire circumstances throughout this pandemic, and while I understand that the Governor’s intentions are good in pushing for this move by the Supreme Court, the inconvenient truth here is that this threatens the ability of apartment communities to maintain regular operations, let alone continue taking the financial risks of working with tenants who cannot pay," said VAMA CEO Patrick McCloud. "This move delays evictions, not stops them; and it puts apartment housing at-risk as a whole. It also risks damage to already shrinking local budgets by devaluing multifamily properties, and therefore their tax evaluations."