• Matthew Crist

RESIDENTIAL TENANT EVICTIONS IN A POST-COVID WORLD

Hopefully we are getting closer and closer to being in a post-covid world. Practically everyone has been affected by covid and the government mandates, moratoria, and laws in reaction to covid. One area of law that has been particularly modified by covid rules and laws is the landlord-tenant sphere.

Back on June 13, 2020, I wrote a blog attempting to break down the evolution of landlord-tenant relations and my observations at that time.


Earlier in the year, on April 26, 2020, I wrote a blog on the concept of force majeure and how it may play a role in various contracts as the covid laws were rolling out and evolving. Some of that blog is relevant to landlord-tenant issues, also.


Back then, federal law practically shut down evictions and those evictions that were still permitted would not be accepted by some clerks. I had numerous conversations with landlords explaining to them that I simply could not help them. For the most part, they were understanding, however, many landlords were facing their own challenges of having tenants in their homes that they simply could not evict through lawful process.


The last two years have offered very little improvements to landlords.


For instance, I have observed that while the covid-19 orders and laws almost always were only applicable to non-payment of rent in residential leases, in practice, courts and clerks simply did not process the paperwork and tenants were provided all possible leniency.


Tenants who are using the premises for illegal purposes, for example, should be evicted just as they would have been prior to the covid orders; however, I have seen two distinct examples of landlords losing such cases without any explanation.


The upshot is that effective July 1, 2022, the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act has been substantially revised. The new VRLTA will be in effect until the later of July 1, 2028, or 7 years after the covid pandemic state of emergency expires.


Thus, it seems, we are in this new paradigm for the long haul – and – I think it is urgently important to note, it is still unlawful for residential landlords to use self-help procedures such as changing locks while a tenant is at work.


If you need assistance with a landlord-tenant issue, please don’t hesitate to drop a message or call me for a free 30-minute phone consultation.

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