Housing Stability During COVID-19

I Need Help with Rent NOW!

There is assistance available if you’re behind on rent. The Virginia Rent Relief Program (RRP) is short-term assistance for rent payments. If you’ve lost income since March 2020, especially due to COVID-19, you should apply.
  • The details:
    • It only applies to rent due since April 1, 2020.
    • You have to provide a copy of your lease or other proof you are a tenant.
    • You have to provide proof of your income.
    • Apply online at https://web.getgov2go.com/signin/create-account or by calling 1-833-RENT-RELIEF (736-8735).
    • Need help applying? Use this guide to help you navigate Gov2Go. 
 
  • Talk to your landlord!
    • Ask your landlord for a plan to pay off what you owe. Get it in writing and make certain that it includes:
      • a statement of how much you owe;
      • a payment schedule with due dates;
      • details on what your debt includes (rent, late fees, etc.);
      • any discounts for paying off early;
      • a written guarantee that your landlord won’t take steps to evict you so long as you are complying with the plan.
 
  • I have a Section 8 (“Housing Choice”) voucher
    • If you have a Section 8 voucher, you may qualify for a hardship exemption. This includes a risk of eviction because you cannot afford your rent, your income has changed, you have lost employment, or have had a death in the family. If you qualify and have requested an exemption, the Public Housing Authority (PHA) must suspend your rent beginning the month that you ask for help, and continue suspending it until the PHA determines whether your hardship is temporary or long term.
 
  • Eviction Diversion Pilot Programs.
    • In July of 2020, courts in the cities of Danville, Hampton, Petersburg and Richmond started an Eviction Diversion Program. This allows qualified tenants to enter into a court-mandated payment plan to get the case dismissed.
    • For more information about the Eviction Diversion Program, contact your local court or legal aid program.

Expiring Eviction Protections

Over the next couple of months, protections against evictions for non-payment of rent will expire. On July 1, 2022, evictions will revert back to the pre-pandemic process. 

Landlords can’t evict tenants for unpaid rent without first following these steps:

  1. Your landlord must give you a written notice letting you know how much you owe. The notice must:
    1. Give you 14 days to pay rent owed; and 
    2. Have information about the Virginia Rent Relief Program (RRP) and how to reach 2-1-1 Virginia for other rental assistance programs.
  2. Your landlord has to apply for rental assistance on your behalf within 14 days of sending you the notice.* If you tell your landlord you are applying for the RRP yourself, they are not required to apply for you. 
  3. Your landlord has to wait for the completed RRP application to get approved—45 days for a first application, or 14 days for a follow-up application. But the landlord can move forward with the eviction without waiting for RRP approval if your application is denied for the one of the following reasons:
    1. You refused to apply for the RRP and refused to cooperate with your landlord in applying for the RRP;
    2. The RRP application is not approved by the agency within the time period (45 or 14 days); or
    3. The application was denied because you are ineligible for rent relief. Your landlord does not have to apply for RRP if the program runs out of money. 

Landlords who own 5 or more rental units must take an extra step before evicting you for non-payment:

The landlord must offer you a payment plan without late fees. The landlord cannot evict you if you accepted the payment plan within 14 days and you are up to date with plan payments. But the landlord only has to enter you into a payment plan one time per lease period. You can enter the payment plan AND apply for rent relief. This option is available until June 30, 2022.

Landlords can’t evict tenants for unpaid rent without first following these steps:

  1. Your landlord must give you a written notice letting you know how much you owe. The notice must:
    1. Give you 14 days to pay rent owed; and 
    2. Have information about the Virginia Rent Relief Program (RRP) and how to reach 2-1-1 Virginia for other rental assistance programs.

Landlords who own 5 or more rental units must take an extra step before evicting you for non-payment:

The landlord must offer you a payment plan without late fees. The landlord cannot evict you if you accepted the payment plan within 14 days and you are up to date with plan payments. But the landlord only has to enter you into a payment plan one time per lease period. You can enter the payment plan AND apply for rent relief. This option is available until June 30, 2022.

Starting July 1, 2022, all pandemic protections end and the eviction process reverts back to the pre-pandemic process. 

  1. The written notice changes from a 14-day notice to a 5-day notice, so tenants will have less time to pay late rent before their landlord can take them to court.
  2. A landlord will not be required to apply for rent relief on the tenant’s behalf or give the tenant information about how to apply for rent relief on their own.
  3. A landlord will not be required to offer the tenant a payment plan.

Does the CARES Act Protect Me?

The federal government passed the CARES Act in March 2020, including protections against eviction during summer 2020 for unpaid rent. Depending on the type of housing you live in and why you may be facing eviction, you may still be protected. While Virginia law only requires landlords to give tenants as little as 14 days of notice before suing for eviction, if you are covered by the CARES Act you are entitled to 30 days notice.

Is my rental unit covered?

  • The CARES Act covers federally subsidized housing.This includes public housing, Section 8 or Rural Housing vouchers, HUD or USDA subsidized housing, and tax credit or “LIHTC” housing.
  • The Act also covers you if your property has federally guaranteed mortgage (with HUD, USDA, the VA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac).
 
 

My landlord is threatening to evict me.

  • If your housing is covered under the CARES Act, your landlord must give you at least 30 days written notice before filing in court to evict you.
  • If you’re in subsidized housing, you may have other protections and should consult an attorney.
 
 

Can my landlord charge late fees?

  • The CARES Act protected you from late fees between April and July of 2020, but for other months, your landlord can charge you if your lease says so.