An apartment complex in Fairfax County, along Route 1 (via Ser Amantio di Nicolao/Wikimedia Commons)

While the federal eviction moratorium is no more, local experts say a Virginia law that took effect on Aug. 10 still provides notable protections for both renters and landlords in Fairfax County.

The Supreme Court ruled on Aug. 26 that the hold on evictions imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was unconstitutional, eliminating a nationwide policy intended to keep people housed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[The eviction moratorium] certainly is one protection that’s removed for the tenant,” said Dipti Pidikiti-Smith of Legal Services of Northern Virginia, a local nonprofit that works with Fairfax County to provide pro-bono legal assistance. “But it wasn’t the main protection. There’s a really good state protection in place.”

In place through June 30, 2022, H.B. 7001 prohibits landlords from evicting tenants who have experienced financial challenges due to the pandemic unless they notify renters about the Virginia Rent Relief Program and apply for assistance on their behalf if the tenant doesn’t apply themselves within 14 days.

Pidikiti-Smith says the bill is a very strong protection that helps both tenants and landlords.

“The state provides more protection initially in preventing filing of these evictions because landlords have to apply for rent assistance,” Pidikiti-Smith said. “Once that’s done, the money is there. The landlords get their payment and tenants have relief… and there’s no need to file a case.”

Tenants can apply for up to 15 months of assistance, which could mean anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on their need and eligibility.

Pidikiti-Smith says she knows one tenant who received $35,000 in relief, though the average is about $5,000 to $6,000. Most tenants who apply do qualify for at least partial assistance.

While the moratorium’s end affected cases already in court, it has had less of an impact statewide on potential evictions.

“We’ve been telling tenants it’s okay that the [eviction moratorium] isn’t in place right now,” Pidikiti-Smith said.

County officials expressed relief last month when the CDC extended its eviction moratorium into October, but they also said the county had ample funds to support those in need.

Earlier this summer, the county set up a new emergency rental assistance program using federal relief funds that has provided more than $12 million in both housing and utilities assistance to about 1,550 households so far, according to data provided to FFXnow.

Before the program was implemented, the county provided more than $28 million in housing, food, and utility assistance from other sources.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said by email that the Supreme Court’s ruling on the federal eviction moratorium was “not ideal.” Read More

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