Virginia has launched a new website and other tools to protect tenants from eviction and support individuals who have lost their jobs or incomes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new website, StayHomeVirginia.com, will help residents navigate housing programs, services and resources. The website offers guidance on working with landlords, financial institutions and other organizations to use eviction and foreclosure protections during the health crisis. Resources include relief for private mortgage holders, multifamily complexes and tenants.
“This public health crisis has created unprecedented housing challenges, regardless of whether you rent or own a home,” Gov. Ralph Northam said. “Right now, many Virginians are struggling to make next month’s rent or mortgage payments amid a loss in wages due to the pandemic. These resources will help Virginians get the information they need to make decisions, and ensure they have access to a safe, stable, and affordable place to live.”
The new tools were developed in partnership with the Virginia Housing Development Authority. VHDA has also committed $12 million to help more than 200 nonprofit housing organizations during the COVID-19 emergency and recovery.
VHDA will also provide a three-month mortgage deferral for those experiencing economic hardship. Landlords who have had a VHDA-backed mortgage deferred must pass this deferral on to their tenants.
Northam also announced Tuesday that he has signed two bills approved by the General Assembly during its reconvened session April 22 that included his proposed amendments to provide relief to tenants and mortgage holders.
House Bill 1420 caps late fees at 10% of the periodic rent or 10% of the remaining balance due, whichever is lesser. This new law will help prevent cascading late fees, allow charges only on the amount due, and set a maximum late fee percentage for the first time in the state.
House Bill 340 delays rental evictions or mortgage foreclosures for individuals who are not currently covered under the protections offered through the federal CARES Act or state and local protections. Under this new law, a tenant may receive a 60-day continuance of an eviction proceeding from a court if they appear in court and provide written evidence that they are not receiving payments or wages due to the state of emergency declared by the Governor. Additionally, homeowners or landlords that rent one, four, or multifamily units can pause a foreclosure proceeding for 30 days if the individual provides their lender with written evidence showing a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.