Attorney General Herring calls on Virginia tenants to know their rights

AG Mark Herring_1542306465776

FILE – In this Jan. 23, 2014 file photo, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring speaks at a news conference at his office in Richmond, Va. A federal judge will hear arguments Tuesday, Feb. 4, on whether Virginia’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. Herring, the state’s newly elected Democratic attorney general, said he has already […]

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Attorney General Mark Herring released a statement on Thursday urging Virginia tenants to familiarize themselves with their rights and protections during the coronavirus pandemic.

The request comes as many residents are experiencing financial hardships and unable to pay rent and other major bills. Along with that, there are specific eviction laws in place and some landlords may try to evict residents under false pretenses.

In Herring’s statement, he details legal information and provides contacts and informational resources on topics including evictions and abandonment, and extended stay hotels and motels. He also recommends it is beneficial to do some research and become familiar with tenants’ rights while the emergency order is still in effect.

“Unfortunately, because of COVID-19 many Virginians have found themselves in tough financial situations and may not have the ability to pay their rent right now, which is why it is so important that every Virginia tenant knows their rights during this time,” said Herring. 

“It is absolutely outrageous that any landlords are trying to evict their tenants right now at a time when we are asking every Virginian to stay home to keep themselves and their families safe and prevent further spread of the virus,” he continued.

“Under the extended judicial emergency order, all non-essential, non-emergency court proceedings, including new eviction cases, have been suspended until at least May 17, 2020,” said Office of the Attorney General officials. “This means that a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant for any non-emergency reason like not paying rent. You do not have to move just because your landlord tells you to.”

The release explains that a notice of abandonment is not a ligament reason to evict tenants sheltering in place.

Extended stay hotels and motels also have different eviction policies.

“If you have stayed in a hotel or a motel for more than 90 days or have a written lease with a term of more than 90 days, you are protected under the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act (VRLTA) and cannot be evicted for a non-emergency reason during the mandatory continuances required under the judicial emergency order,” according to officials.

“Those who are currently living in hotels or motels but have not been there for 90 days or do not have a lease are not protected by VRLTA, but the landlord must give them a five-day notice of eviction if the resident has failed to pay,” the statement continues.

Resources and the full release can be read online.

Following Governor Northam’s state of emergency declaration, Herring has helped Virginians during the pandemic including petitioning the SCC to freeze utility disconnections, reviewing price gouging, and pursuing COVID-19 related scams.

The full list of Herring’s assistance to Virginians can be read online.

In the statement, Herring also calls on the Trump Administration to take certain actions to protect all citizens during this time.

His recommendations include using the Defense Protection Act to prioritize essential supplies, providing federal student loan borrowers with protections, and suspending the Department of Veterans Affairs deadlines and debt collections.

The full list of recommendations can be read online.

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