COVID-19 & Evictions

Are you unable to pay rent and facing possible eviction? It’s important to know your rights, seek housing counseling assistance, and talk to your landlord about your options.  

Your landlord cannot evict you without a court order. There are several steps that need to occur in order for an eviction to be processed. 

Talk to your landlord and learn what your options are.  

  • You’ll need documentation of your financial situation, such as proof of unemployment benefits and/or a letter from your employer. Many landlords are working with tenants by waiving late fees, creating payment plans or allowing tenants to relocate to another unit, depending on availability, or applying security deposits to unpaid rent. 
  • See a sample payment plan agreement (PDF).
  • See another sample payment plan agreement (PDF).
  • After you talk with your landlord or management company, you should submit a written request that asks for an installment plan, to waive late fees or penalties, to apply your security deposit to unpaid rent, or postpone your rent payment. See sample documents here.
  • Be sure to keep any and all documentation of changes to your lease and/or rent payment amounts in writing.

Preparing for Eviction Cases

  • Virginia has new statewide protections for renters. Information on those protections is available. Renters may also be protected through the nationwide eviction moratorium.  If you can't pay your rent because of hardships during COVID like job loss, income loss, or medical expenses, you can try to stop the eviction by using the statewide protections or nationwide eviction moratorium.
  • On September 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended the nationwide eviction moratorium to help mitigate against the further spread of COVID-19. The CDC's emergency health order will protect qualifying renters from eviction for nonpayment of rent effective September 4 through March 31, 2021.
  • Starting January 1, 2021 in Virginia, if a tenant is late paying rent, a landlord must:
    • Offer written notice to you of amount due and owed. 
    • You have 14 days to pay the amount due and owed, enter into a payment plan, or make another payment plan arrangement with your landlord. 
    • The written notice must include information about submitting a signed statement certifying additional expenses or a loss of income due to the declared state of emergency. 
    • The written notice must also offer the option but not required to enter into a repayment plan for back due rent. 
    • The payments must be equal payments over the shorter of six months or end of lease term. 
    • Repayment plan cannot include late fees. 
    • The written notice must have information on the availability of the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program and 2-1-1 Virginia. 
    • The landlord will apply to RMRP on behalf of tenant or cooperate with tenant’s RMRP or other rental assistance application.
    • Only after a landlord completes these steps, could an eviction be filed.
  • You may be able to postpone your case for up to 60 days, if you lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and have been served an eviction notice.
  • This does not make the case go away, it simply delays it to give you time to get together any rent money you owe. 
  • You must go to your first court date and appear in person before the judge (or request a remote hearing) with written proof of either:
    • A paystub showing zero dollars in earnings for a pay period within March 12 and June 10, 
    • A copy of a furlough notification letter or essential employee status letter indicating the employee’s status as nonessential due to the governor’s state of emergency, OR
    • Any other documentation that shows decreased income due to COVID-19, using this form.
  • Ask the judge for a 60-day "continuance."
  • For free information and legal advice from an attorney about your case, call Legal Services of Northern Virginia at 703-778-6800 or visit their website.

Helpful Resources

You may feel scared, but take action: reach out to people who can help.

Related Documents

Information for Landlords

Landlords who may be facing financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19 can find helpful information on engaging with at-risk tenants while remaining in compliance with fair housing laws and understand the key elements of a repayment plan. 

Learn more about options for landlords, including sample rent repayment agreements, from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.(PDF)