Va. Supreme Court grants eviction moratorium through Sept. 7
Move halts all proceedings for evictions, foreclosures due to pandemic
The Supreme Court of Virginia granted a temporary statewide eviction moratorium to begin Aug. 10 and remain in effect through Sept. 7, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday. The moratorium halts all eviction proceedings related to rent payment failures due to the pandemic.
Northam requested the moratorium in a letter to the state’s highest court on July 24.
“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,” Northam said in a statement. “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.”
Northam on June 29 launched the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) — a $50 million program funded through federal CARES Act funding. The relief program provides funding for Virginia households facing eviction and foreclosure due to the pandemic.
The Virginia Apartment Management Association (VAMA) and the Apartment and Office Building Association of Greater Washington (AOBA), however, disapproved of the eviction moratorium, saying that it is “kicking the can down the road.”
Housing providers have been harboring a portion of the financial burden, VAMA and AOBA officials say, and the moratorium does not address the core issue: the moratorium delays evictions and does not stop them, according to VAMA.
“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,” VAMA CEO Patrick McCloud said in a statement. “This move delays evictions, not stops them; and it puts apartment housing at-risk as a whole.”
Northam, in a released statement, said he encouraged tenants to know their rights and responsibilities (available through Stay.Home.Virginia) and pay their rent on time if they are able.
The housing crisis due to COVID-19 will be further discussed during the General Assembly’s special session, set to begin Aug. 18 at the Stuart C. Siegel Center at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“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,” Northam said in a statement.