Bills will help renters affected by COVID-19

Hampton

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Bills passed in the General Assembly’s recent special session will help renters affected by COVID-19 according to legislators.

House Bill 5115 and House Bill 5064 were both passed this fall to deal with renters impacted financially by COVID-19.

Del. Marcia “Cia’ Price, who represents the 95th District which covers parts of Hampton and Newport News, says she sponsored the bills to help after constituents came to her addressing issues with housing.

“People were really being hit hard, whether it was tourism or jobs going away. How do they still keep their home? How do they find new jobs? They just really need some assistance,” she said.

Price, who serves on the Housing and Consumer Protection Sub-Committee says the Commonwealth has had an eviction crisis for years but the pandemic exacerbated the issue.

According to Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk and Chesapeake have some of the highest rates in the country.

Price says the General Assembly worked on legislation to help put a dent in the problem earlier in the year including HB 5115, which was originally made for those affected by government furloughs before the pandemic.

“That gave them a 60-day stay prior to an evection. In April during a reconvened session, we extended that to those that were dealing with COVID-19. We were seeing in the court cases in Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Hampton Roads that it was being dealt with in different ways,” she said.

“So, we clarified the language that a tenant should know if they have to go to court due to non-payment because their finances were impacted due to COVID, they have a 60-day stay for that eviction. They can use that up to 90 days after the emergency order goes away,” she said.

Price says the same applies for homeowners facing foreclosure but it’s for a 30-day stay.

HB 5064 will provide payment plan options to renters, who might need a little extra to get all of their rent in.

“If someone has a couple hundred dollars for one month, they can include that in future rental payments that they have so they’re not automatically evicted for that one month they might’ve fallen short or the length of their lease,” Price said.

She says that this will give those who were just short enough time to get the money needed.

While the eviction crisis is something that Virginia has dealt with for years, Price says she and her colleagues are working to get even more legislation passed in the upcoming session.

“It is a priority for us to really fix some of the things in the system that are leading to these issues of eviction and understand housing is a human right and leading from that advantage point,” she said.

Price encourages all to let their elected officials know about their issues.

She also says those facing eviction have a few resources:

  • Call 211 anywhere statewide to be put in contact with resources
  • 833-NO-EVICT (833-663-8428).
  • Legal Aid of Eastern Virginia 757-827-5078.

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