Virginia Courts are again scheduling eviction actions.  Most landlords can immediately start eviction proceedings.  There are certain landlords who cannot start immediately, and some tenants now have new rights.   

Do all Landlords fall under the Federal CARES Act?

No.  The CARES Act only applies if a landlord participates in certain federal housing programs or owns rental property secured by a federally backed mortgage or multifamily mortgage loan.  This includes loans secured by a lien on residential property, including a refinance, that is federally backed.  If a rental property falls under the CARES Act, eviction proceedings cannot start until July 25, 2020.  After that landlords must provide tenants with 30 day notice before they must vacate the property.

Are some tenants protected beyond the CARES Act?

Yes.  Virginia law protects tenants employed by the United States government, independent contractors of the government, or are employed by a company under contract with the government who were furloughed because of a government closure.  This law provides for a 90 day stay of eviction proceedings from the day that the governor’s state of emergency ends.  Homeowners may also receive protection from foreclosure under this law.  It is up to the tenant to prove that they qualify under this law.

Are late fees calculated the same way?

No.  Virginia law limits the amount of late fees you can charge a client.  No late fee shall exceed the lessor of 10% of the periodic rent or 10% of the remaining balance due and owed by the tenant.

You can find more information at http://www.vacourts.gov/news/items/covid/2020_0515_unlawful_detainers_and_writs_of_eviction.pdf.

There are other issues that you should know about evictions in Virginia. 

Different courts are handling eviction proceedings differently. 

Courts throughout Virginia are setting their own standards for scheduling hearings.  Be prepared to deal with different rules depending on the location of the property.

Eviction proceedings prior to March 13, 2020 still count.

You do not need to refile an unlawful detainer if you were awarded judgement before the courts closed on March 13, 2020.  You probably will need to reschedule an eviction with your local sheriff’s office.

Tenants will still owe landlords rent and other obligations under the lease.

Just because a tenant cannot be sued now does not mean that they get out of their lease obligations.  The new laws and restrictions apply to starting eviction procedures.  Tenants still owe rent, late rent, and attorney fees, as well as need to pay for damages to the property.

If you have a landlord/tenant issue, contact us at Pincus Goodman, P.C. at 757-301-9634 or matt@pincuslegal.com.