To protect public health and slow the spread of COVID-19, in September 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an order that protects some residential tenants who have fallen behind on rent from being evicted. The original order ran through the end of December 2020, but Congress extended the protections until the end of January 2021.
This moratorium is not automatic and there are steps tenants must take to avoid an eviction.
To get the 60-day delay:
Depending on the type of housing you live in and reason for the eviction, you may be covered by a federal law called The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Although the CARES Act moratorium expired on July 25, 2020, tenants who were covered by the moratorium are entitled to more notice of an eviction than tenants who are not covered.
Tenants covered by the CARES Act are entitled to a 30-day notice of eviction for nonpayment, rather than a 5-day notice usually required by state law.
The CARES Act applies to subsidized housing and private properties that are backed by federal guarantees mortgages. Talk to a lawyer if you have questions or need help finding out if your housing is covered by the CARES act.
Private, non-subsidized housing where the landlord has a federally backed mortgage:
If your rental unit is covered by the CARES Act, your landlord was prohibited from charging you late fees between April and July, but they can charge late fees now if your lease says so.
There is government assistance available for people who are behind on rent. The rent relief program provides short-term financial assistance in the form of rent and mortgage payments.
To apply for assistance, visit dhcd.virginia.gov/eligibility or call 211 VIRGINIA by dialing 2-1-1 from your phone.
If you fall behind on rent payments, it is a good idea to ask your landlord for a payment plan to pay off the balance. Get any payment plan in writing. Make sure the agreement includes:
If you live in an apartment covered under the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, you may qualify for a financial hardship exemption. The Public Housing Authority that issues the voucher must grant an exemption from payment of minimum rent if the family is experiencing a financial hardship. Financial hardship includes:
If a family requests a financial hardship exemption, the PHA must suspend the minimum rent requirement beginning the month following the family’s request for a hardship exemption and continuing until the PHA determines whether there is a qualifying financial hardship and whether it is temporary or long term.
Starting July 1, 2020, Pilot Eviction Diversion Programs began in the cities of Danville, Hampton, Petersburg, and Richmond. Tenants facing an eviction in the participating cities may be eligible to enter into a court mandated payment plan. To qualify, the tenant must:
If the tenant qualifies, the court enters the landlord and tenant into a court-ordered payment plan.
For more information about the Eviction Diversion Program in your city, contact your local court or local legal aid program.