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VA General Assembly and Governor Approve New COVID-19 Legislation

Source: Virginia Realtors®

Critical updates to help YOU operate within the law

Governor Northam called a special session of the General Assembly, which began on August 18, 2020. Throughout this session, Virginia REALTORS® worked to maintain the status of “essential” for our members, enabling them to remain open for business. The 2020 Special Session was limited in scope to legislation to assist with the pandemic response and police reform. Because housing is closely related to the pandemic, eviction legislation was a top priority.

Your Virginia REALTORS® Government Relations team worked tirelessly with senators, delegates, and the Governor’s office to strike a balance for our property managers, owners, and their tenants, as we all continue to rebuild our economy. Within that discussion and debate, we successfully shared the plight of small “mom and pop” owners, many of whom own just a couple of rental homes. In addition, we helped secure approximately $62 million of rental relief that is available for owners and tenants if they have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On November 9, 2020, the General Assembly concluded the 2020 Special Session. Some of the Governor’s Amendments to the Budget were not adopted which means the Governor has until December 9, 2020 to address the Budget (so the Budget is not yet final).  The Budget contains language that controls legal processes for evictions, including language that dovetails with the federal eviction moratorium through December 31, 2020 issued by the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”).  Although we do not anticipate the Budget language on evictions to change, it is important for members of Virginia REALTORS® to understand what is coming.

But first, it is important to be aware of one piece of legislation that has an emergency clause was signed into law by the Governor and is therefore effective on November 9, 2020. HB 5064 amends the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act (“VRLTA”) to require a landlord who owns four or less dwelling units to give the tenant a 14-day notice instead of a 5-day notice for nonpayment of rent. For landlords who own five or more dwelling units, the VRLTA now requires a 14-day notice instead of a 5-day notice for nonpayment of rent, with the additional requirement that the tenant shall be offered the opportunity to enter a payment plan for the back-rent owed, with payments spread out over six months. Landlords and property managers should carefully review the provisions of HB 5064 by clicking this link. HB 5064 sunsets on June 30, 2021.

The major changes in landlord-tenant law are contained in the State Budget, which again is not yet effective but will be sometime in December.

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