EVICTING TENANTS and COVID19 - WHAT LANDLORDS NEED TO KNOW
Because of the economic impact of state and local governments shutting down their economies, the federal government passed the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and
Economic Security Act).
The CARES Act included several protections for tenants leasing certain types of residences. Additionally, Virginia has developed additional protections for tenants, particularly in Northern Virginia.
This blog is not a comprehensive statement of all changes and requirements, such article would be extremely long, however, I wanted to provide a brief primer on some of the important issues landlords now face in Northern Virginia.
In some Courts in the Northern Virginia area, an action to evict a tenant has simply been prohibited; such prohibition is scheduled to expire in late June, however, it might be extended.
The CARES Act has prohibited the eviction of a residential tenant who is late on their rent if:
The landlord received a federally backed mortgage to purchase the property,
The property is covered by the Violence Against Women Act of 1994,
The property is subject to the rural housing voucher program under the 1949 Housing Act,
The landlord received a forbearance for a loan on the property under the CARES Act.
Furthermore, if the property fits into the CARES Act protections, it is a “Covered Property” and the landlord is also prohibited from charging fees, penalties, or other similar charges for nonpayment of rent.
Even more stringent, the landlord must wait until after 120 days after March 27, 2020 to issue a notice to vacate, and then must wait 30 days after that notice date before evicting. These dates are, of course, subject to extension if the government determines the pandemic is continuing, stay tuned.
Because of these restrictions, Courts have begun requiring an affidavit before filing an eviction, once they are permitted to be filed, and that affidavit must contain statements from the landlord that he or she is familiar with the CARES Act requirements, among other disclosures.
What is permitted?
Right now, in many Northern Virginia Courts, a landlord is simply not permitted to file an action to evict a tenant, for any reason. This goes beyond the requirements of the CARES Act, because the CARES Act only prohibits eviction for nonpayment of rent.
In a general sense, the CARES Act does not prohibit evicting a tenant, even in a covered property, if the tenant is using the premises for criminal activity or violating the lease in some fashion that is not able to be cured, and does not prohibit evicting holdover tenants.
Some Courts, however, are simply not accepting the paperwork to start the eviction proceedings.
Landlords are permitted to begin the notification process to put tenants on notice that the lease has expired or the tenant is in violation of some law or lease provision.
Furthermore, I have looked and not found any prohibition on reporting tenants for unpaid rent as a landlord may usually do.
These are trying times for everyone and some landlords are in the precarious position of needing to reclaim possession of their property. While some Courts are not presently permitting the eviction process to begin, if you are a landlord in a difficult position with a tenant, send me a message and let me see if I can help you.