Eviction freeze in effect in Virginia; rally for ‘rent cancel’ planned for Friday

Capitol Connection

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A freeze on eviction and foreclosure proceedings is in effect in Virginia but some are calling for a cancellation of rent collection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The newly passed law — originally intended for furloughed federal employees only — was amended to expand rent and mortgage relief to anyone who has been financially impacted by the coronavirus. The freeze will end 90 days after Gov. Ralph Northam’s ‘State of Emergency’ expires. That’s currently scheduled for June 10.

The amendment filled in the gaps left by the CARES Act, which provided this relief for federally insured housing but not the private market.

May 1 will be the second round of rent due during Virginia’s stay-at-home order. Both due dates have prompted rallies. This time around, protesters are calling on lawmakers to take things a step further by cancelling rent during the public health crisis, instead of just pausing it.

Can’t work, can’t pay’: Virginians call for rent freeze during pandemic

Adolfo Bermudez has been living in Virginia for two years since getting political asylum from Nicaragua. The single father of two says he normally works 60 hours a week. Now, he says his hours as a painting assistant have been cut to 10 weekly and events he would normally be catering are cancelled.

“If I pay for rent, I can’t pay for food or medicine,” said Bermudez, who also lives with his 70-year-old mother. “I don’t know what is going to happen to us”

As stimulus checks and increased unemployment benefits are injected into the economy, Bermudez points out that many undocumented immigrants don’t qualify for this assistance. That’s why he supports a rent cancellation, an idea that has generated more than 3,000 signatures in an online petition.

Patrick McCloud, Chief Executive Officer with the Virginia Apartment Management Association said cancelling rent could cause problem for property owners, who still have to pay operational costs, employees and property taxes. He said owners typically take home 9 cents on every dollar of rent.

“From renters, to property management, to the mortgage entity, to city taxes, all of these things domino onto each other,” McCloud said. “When you pull one segment of income out of the economy, what is the ripple effect as that moves on down the chain?”

McCloud said most owners are working with tenants to set up payment plans. Renee Pulliam, Director of Operations at Thalhimer, said they’ve been doing this since March.

“It’s very important for those who can pay to pay because that’s what affords the industry the opportunity to help those who may be encountering hardship,” McCloud said.

On May 1, 2020, New Virginia Majority and several other groups are hosting a car rally for a rent cancellation at 1200 Southwood Parkway (Southwood Apartment complex) at 5:45 p.m.

8News posted on Facebook Thursday asking if you’re having trouble paying rent on time. Here’s what some viewers said:

I am a CNA and single mother who cannot work currently due to the virus. They offered to split our April rent over the next 12 months but that is the only thing they are offering to aid financially

Tanya Robinson

I was just recently diagnosed with breast cancer in September and I am out of work for my treatment. I cant sign up for unemployment and they told me I cant sign up for disability because I wont be out a year from work but it will be close to a year if coronavirus don’t go away. I have been making it the best way I know how. I am a single parent and I’m 39 years old.

Latoya Peterson

I was hoping that some help would be given to those who have a hard time with rent but with him nothing matters but the money now my family of 8 will be trying to find somewhere to go. I have my grandbabies and children with me. This is all too much. Thanks for allowing me a moment to let you know just how landlord treat us in a time like this.

Cynthia Hill

We have a renter in our old home that we downsized from.  It was on the market for 8 months & we decided that we would have to rent it or lose it. Now renters are 2 months behind on rent with nothing this month. There rent is $1600 a month Our mortgages (2) on that home = $2200 a month, rent is less then our payments.

Plus we have our new home of $1500 a month. In fear of losing everything 😱 with 3 middle schoolers at home

Mary Wallace

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