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Evictions halted until March 31 for most nationwide

Published: Jan. 26, 2021 at 11:20 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - One of the first acts following President Joe Biden’s inauguration last Wednesday was signing several executive orders, one which extended the federal ban on evictions until at least March 31.

The ban helped millions of Americans struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic was set to expire at the end of January.

This ban is not for all Americans. You must qualify in several categories and must also sign this declaration from the CDC and present that to your landlord.

“You have to have lost income recently or have a high medical expense and be unable to pay rent because of one of those two things. You have to be able to attest that if you were evicted now, you would be homeless,” Christie Marra, the Director of Housing Advocacy with the Virginia Poverty Law Center, said.

Tenants must expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for calendar ear 2020-2021 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), they were not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or received a stimulus check pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act.

In order to qualify, tenants must have been attempting to make partial payments, and must still pay rent or make a housing payment, and comply with other obligations in a lease or contract.

Virginia has also implemented more protections and options for tenants.

“As of Jan. 1, if you are behind on rent, your landlord is going to issue you what we call a pay or quit notice, which normally means you have two options,” Marra said. “Give the money or leave. And if you don’t leave I’m [your landlord can] sue you.”

She said in Virginia you now have four options: Pay everything you owe, including possible late fees, within 14 days of non-payment; create a fixed payment plan with your landlord; apply for the Rent and Mortgage Relief; lastly, leave, but still owe your landlord money.

“I always encourage people instead of leaving, call a lawyer first,” Marra said. “Find out what’s available. Look at the rent and mortgage relief program and apply for funds.”

She said millions of dollars in federal funding should be on the way in the coming days to support more Americans struggling to pay rent, so be sure to apply for the Rent and Mortgage Relief Program as soon as possible.

For more information, click here, call the Eviction Legal Helpline at 1-833-NoEvict, or contact Christie Marra at christie@vplc.org.

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