New laws cap late fees, protect renters during emergencies: $12M helps housing non-profits
Gov. Ralph Northam today shared new resources to protect Virginians from eviction and support individuals who have lost their job or income due to the COVID-19 lockdowns.
These tools include StayHomeVirginia.com, a new website to help Virginians navigate housing programs, services, and resources. The website offers guidance on working with landlords, financial institutions, and other organizations to use eviction and foreclosure protections during this health crisis.
Resources include relief for private mortgage holders, multifamily complexes, and tenants affected by the COVID-19 lockdowns.
“This public health crisis has created unprecedented housing challenges, regardless of whether you rent or own a home,” said Northam. “Right now, many Virginians are struggling to make next month’s rent or mortgage payments amid a loss in wages due to the pandemic. These resources will help Virginians get the information they need to make decisions, and ensure they have access to a safe, stable, and affordable place to live.”
The new tools were developed in partnership with the Virginia Housing Development Authority, the Commonwealth’s housing financing agency. Virginia Housing has also committed $12 million to help non-profit housing organizations continue operations and deliver services during the COVID-19 emergency and recovery.
This funding will support more than 200 non-profit housing entities across all regions of the Commonwealth. The Northam administration has also worked with Virginia Housing to provide a three-month mortgage deferral for those experiencing economic hardship. Landlords who have had their Virginia Housing-backed mortgage deferred must pass this deferral on to their tenants.
Northam also signed two important bills approved by the General Assembly during the reconvened session on April 22 that included his proposed amendments to provide relief to tenants and mortgage holders.
Capping late fees on rent. House Bill 1420 caps late fees at 10 percent of the periodic rent or 10 percent of the remaining balance due, whichever is lesser. This new law will help prevent cascading late fees, allow charges only on the amount due, and set a maximum late fee percentage for the first time in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Delegate Jeffrey Bourne sponsored this measure.
Protecting tenants from eviction during emergencies. House Bill 340 delays rental evictions or mortgage foreclosures for individuals who are not currently covered under the protections offered through the federal CARES Act or state and local protections. Under this new law, a tenant may receive a 60-day continuance of an eviction proceeding from a court if they appear in court and provide written evidence that they are not receiving payments or wages due to the state of emergency declared by the Governor. Additionally, homeowners or landlords that rent one, four, or multifamily units in the Commonwealth can pause a foreclosure proceeding for 30 days if the individual provides their lender with written evidence showing a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Delegate Marcia C. Price sponsored this measure.