This year the Virginia Assembly has passed fourteen new laws that provide new protections for tenants and homeowners. Some of these laws are playing a decisive role in the courts as unlawful detainer actions are being filed at record numbers and foreclosures loom over homeowners and residential rental unit owners. This summer alone, there were over 6,000 eviction hearings scheduled between July 20 and Aug. 7 this year. And since the Virginia Supreme Court has lifted the moratorium on evictions based on nonpayment eviction proceedings have increased significantly. In Fairfax County alone it is purported by the Eviction Prevention and Intervention Team that they have processed over 700 cases.
Several new recently enacted or amended laws regarding pending foreclosures and evictions have given protections to homeowners and renters.
Under Virginia Code Section 44-209, federal employees, federal contractors, and employees of federal contractors who are affected by a United States federal government shutdown of 14 consecutive days or longer are given temporary protections from evictions or foreclosures. HB 340 extends those same protections to anyone affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic public health crisis during the period from which the Governor of Virginia declares a state of emergency plus 90 days. The following protections are available:
Those protected during a federal government shutdown must provide written proof which includes:
Similarly, those seeking protection from eviction during the COVID 19 Pandemic State of Emergency must also come to court with written proof of not getting paid during the pandemic. It is important to remember these protections are for evictions due to nonpayment, not for other reasons.
An amendment to Virginia Code Section 55.1-1243 allows tenants to get temporary relief. If the General District Court Judge finds that the tenant made a good faith effort to notify the landlord of the filing, the General District Court Judge can grant a temporary ex parte order granting relief. A full hearing must be scheduled to be held within five days of the order. This law also allows for a prevailing tenant to receive actual damages and attorney’s fees.
Current Virginia law leaves eviction proceedings to stay on the court record for 10 years, even if the lawsuit is dismissed. The amendment to Virginia Code Section 8.01-130.01 does not take effect until January 1, 2022. Once it does, persons with earlier eviction litigation may petition the court to expunge any eviction lawsuit that was dismissed or when more than six months have passed since the complaint was nonsuited. Starting in January 2022, the General District Court will automatically expunge any such suit if it is dismissed or six months have passed since it was nonsuited.
 Recently passed HB5005 provides that, pursuant to the Governor’s declaration of a state of emergency under Virginia Code Section 44-146.17, no landlord shall terminate a residential tenancy, or take any action to obtain possession of a dwelling unit for nonpayment of rent through December 31, 2020, unless such eligible tenant refuses to apply for Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program assistance and refuses to cooperate with the landlord in applying for rental assistance through the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program.
© Caulkins & Bruce PC, 2020. The information presented is for informational purposes only. You should not construe it as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific fact or circumstances.
"Obtained a judgment for condominium association in excess of $1 million against developer of condominium in Fairfax County."
"Defended an officer of a government contractor in a case involving enforcement of a non-competition agreement."
"Defended and achieved favorable settlement of wrongful termination and discrimination claims brought in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia."
"Served as outside counsel to several franchisors, prepared franchise agreements, franchise disclosure documents and state franchise registrations, and counseled franchisors regarding franchise compliance issues."