Governor Northam Signs Legislation to Reduce Eviction Rates in Virginia

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Press release via Northam’s office:

Governor Ralph Northam has signed a series of measures aimed at reducing eviction rates in the Commonwealth. These bills support the Governor’s affordable housing priorities, which he set forth in Executive Order Twenty-Five signed in November of 2018.

 

The legislative package includes House Bill 1898, sponsored by Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy and Senate Bills 1445 and 1448, sponsored by Senator Mamie Locke. These bills provide additional opportunities for low-income Virginians to submit unpaid rent and fees prior to an eviction judgement.

 

House Bill 1922, sponsored by Delegate Jeff Bourne and Senate Bill 1627, sponsored by Senator George Barker, reduce the timeline for a tenant to receive a hearing in an eviction proceeding and reduce the number of legal actions a landlord may file in court against a tenant. 

 

Additionally, House Bill 2054, sponsored by Delegate Betsy Carr and Senate Bill 1676, sponsored by Senator Bill Stanley, require landlords to provide tenants with mutually-agreed upon written leases and set forth certain provisions that must be included in the written lease. 

 

Collectively, these bills are aimed at reducing the likelihood of an eviction and are based on policy recommendations from the Virginia Housing Commission. Virginia localities have some of the highest eviction rates in the nation and Governor Northam has made expanding access to affordable housing a priority of his administration.

 

“Increasing the quality, availability, and affordability of housing in our Commonwealth is critical to ensuring that all Virginians have an equal opportunity to lead healthy and productive lives,” said Governor Northam. “These measures establish important consumer protections, help to improve housing stability for vulnerable populations, and represent a fundamental step forward in addressing Virginia’s disproportionately high eviction rates. I thank the General Assembly for working together to pass these important bills, and I am proud to sign them into law.”

 

“I am thrilled that the General Assembly unanimously passed my bill, House Bill 1898, which will give tenants who can’t afford to pay their rent on time extra time to ‘pay and stay’ by allowing them up until two days before the sheriff’s eviction to pay the full amount owed to the landlord,” said Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy. “When families are evicted, they lose more than just their dwelling—children can lose weeks of school, parents miss work, and everyone loses the connections and support systems they have built in their communities. This commonsense bill helps tackle one of the most pressing problems that has been plaguing our Commonwealth for too long.”

 

“Housing eviction rates in our Commonwealth are a disgrace,” said Senator Mamie Locke. “It is no secret that the laws and regulations around eviction in Virginia are intentionally vague and disproportionately target our most vulnerable communities. After months of hard work in conjunction with the Virginia Housing Commission, I’m proud to announce the passage of bipartisan legislation that helps to ensure greater consumer protections and renter fairness so that hard working Virginians are not losing the roofs over their heads.”

 

“The root causes of most evictions are many and varied: poverty, an inadequate supply of living wage jobs, a lack of affordable housing. We need to and are working toward true progress on all of these fronts,” said Delegate Betsy Carr. “My legislative colleagues on the Virginia Housing Commission and I introduced six bills to accomplish several objectives based on input from many stakeholders, including tenant advocates and landlords. My bill, House Bill 2054, requires landlords to provide tenants with written leases; and in the absence of written leases, mandates that the rental term is 12 months with the rent to be paid in monthly installments. I’m glad that this bill successfully passed the General Assembly and was approved by the Governor.”

 

“The time is long overdue for the General Assembly to pass meaningful reform to Virginia’s landlord/tenant laws that have for too long, unfairly benefited the landlord at the expense of the tenant. But that time is now upon us, and the legislation passed by this General Assembly, and now signed by our Governor brings both equity and fairness now back into that relationship,” said Senator Bill Stanley. “Fair housing, and more importantly fair dealing in contracts between the landlord and tenant, have been accomplished by this landmark legislation package developed by the Virginia Housing Commission, and I am proud to be, as a member of that important commission, a part of it.”

 

House Bills 2007 and 2655, Senate Bills 1450and 1626, and House Bill 1923 also address the issue of eviction reduction and housing security. Governor Northam will act on these bills in the coming weeks.

 

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