Don't just stop paying your bills! Call your lending institution, landlord, utility (including internet) to ask for delay ("forbearance") of your payment due date, if you need to do so because of loss of employment or income. The new U.S. CARES Act directs lenders holding federally-backed mortgages to suspend borrowers' payments for up to 12 months if they have lost income because of the coronavirus outbreak. This order covers the vast majority of existing mortgages. Typically, lenders are deferring loans for three months, payback is over 12 months waiving late fees. To qualify, you need to have suffered a financial hardship related to the coronavirus outbreak that makes you unable to meet basic living expenses. (This includes lost work because of all the business shutdowns. You don't need to have fallen ill or be caring for a sick family member.) Gov. Northam ordered that borrowers, who have federal mortgage loans through the Virginia Housing Department Authority (VHDA), may request up to three months payment deferral if they can demonstrate need because of COVID-19. These payments will be reimbursed over 12 months with late fees waived. Request that the skipped monthly payments be added on to the end of the mortgage, rather than a balloon bill of all missed payments required when you resume making payments. (Contact legal aid
advocates about tenants' and mortgage payers' rights.)
Additional legislation delays rental evictions or mortgage foreclosures for individuals who are not currently covered under the protections offered through the federal CARES Act or state and local protections
. Under this new law, a tenant may receive a 60-day continuance of an eviction proceeding from a court if they appear in court and provide written evidence that they are not receiving payments or wages due to the state of emergency declared by the Governor. The Virginia General Assembly approved a 60-day grace period for those facing eviction, proposed by Gov. Northam, along with limits on late fees charged by landlords.
The U.S. Cares law also applies to renters whose landlords received federally-backed mortgages (about 1/3 of Virginia landlords).The CARES Act suspends foreclosure and foreclosure-related evictions until July 25th, for tenants whose landlords have federally-backed mortgages. Pay something toward rent, and work out a payment plan with your landlord.NEW - RELIEF for TENANTS:
Virginia is using $50 million in federal CARES Act funding to launch
the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program in partnership with local nonprofit programs. The program began June 29th.
That appropriation is a quarter of the $200 million that the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development had requested to operate the program, but deemed sufficient to start the program.
Governor Northam said, "The program will help cover rent and mortgage payments on households experiencing financial instability due to the pandemic," he said. "Because we know the pandemic is having a disproportionate health and financial impact on people of color, this program will have an equity lens and target outreach to those communities." To identify the local Rent and Mortgage Relief Program administering organization and to conduct a self-assessment for eligibility, visit this website or call 211 VIRGINIA by dialing 2-1-1 from your phone.
Tenants and homeowners are encouraged to know their rights and responsibilities and pay their rent and mortgages on time if they are able. See StayHomeVirginia.com
for additional information and resources.
New state legislation (effective July 1) caps late fees at 10 percent of the periodic rent or 10 percent of the remaining balance due, whichever is less. This new law prevents cascading late fees, allows charges only on the amount due, and sets a maximum late fee percentage for the first time in Virginia. (Contact legal aid
advocates, for information about tenants' rights. )
Tenants, sick or out-of-work, should ask for forbearance (delay) on rental payments. Request that the skipped monthly payments be payed over time, rather than in a single balloon bill of all missed payments required as soon as you resume making payments.Here's a list of new laws
, approved by the 2020 General Assembly and effective July 1, which help tenants in Virginia.