EHI URGES VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO PASS EVICTION PROTECTION LEGISLATION TO FULLY ADDRESS COVID-19 IMPACTS

On August 16, 2020, EHI sent memorandums to the leadership of the Virginia General Assembly, urging enactment of eviction protection legislation at the General Assembly’s Special Session (which started on August 18). (The limited CDC moratorium falls far short of providing the degree of protection needed by tenants—and by landlords—resulting from the pandemic. Virginia is where EHI is incorporated.)

EHI’s memorandums document how crucial it is for Virginia (and other states) to take effective action of their own to fully protect residents from the loss of their homes due to the pandemic’s impacts. For example:

  • About 384,300 Virginians were on its unemployment rolls as of June 2020 (8.4% of Virginia’s workforce—most other states have even higher unemployment rates) 
  • Almost the same number of Virginia renter households (about 384,000) believe they are at serious risk for eviction by the end of 2020, due to nonpayment of rent 
  • Before the pandemic, Virginia had extremely high eviction rates—more than twice the national average
  • Evictions often have devastating effects on the people affected 
  • Virginia’s statutes and regulations fail to adequately protect tenants

Eviction restrictions such as those proposed by Virginia’s Governor on August 14 are appropriate and necessary, In EHI’s view. Those proposals also are consistent with restrictions imposed by many other states. Other key parts of the solution are adequate funding to increase access to affordable housing, reduce homelessness, and establish a pilot program to reduce problems that result in eviction actions.

On September 7, 2020, the limited eviction moratorium that the Virginia Supreme Court issued in August ended, after the court decided (with two dissenting votes) not to extend it. The court's basis reportedly was the new, CDC eviction moratorium that took effect that day, nationwide. For more on that moratorium, please click on FEDERAL EVICTION MORATORIUM ISSUED IN SEPTEMBER 2020

The CDC moratorium has somewhat different requirements from the one proposed by Virginia’s Governor on August 14, 2020 in advance of the Virginia General Assembly Special Session that he called, and that began on August 18. For example, unlike the CDC moratorium, Governor Northam’s proposal would:

  • Pause evictions through at least the first four months of 2021;
  • Condition that pause on the landlord and tenant working together on a payment plan, and seeking out financial assistance specifically through Virginia’s statewide Rent and Mortgage Relief Program, as well as other sources; and
  • Pause utility disconnections for electric, water and natural gas utilities until 60 days after the Governor’s declared state of emergency ends.

To access EHI’s memorandums (whose content is identical), please click on EHI MEMO TO VIRGINIA SENATE re: EVICTIONS, or EHI MEMO TO HOUSE OF DELEGATES re: EVICTIONS.