© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Should Rent Relief Start With Landlords?

In this Jan. 27, 2021, file photo, a For Rent sign is posted in Sacramento, Calif.
Rich Pedroncelli
In this Jan. 27, 2021, file photo, a For Rent sign is posted in Sacramento, Calif.

Tenants across Virginia who are having a hard time making ends meet are about to get some temporary relief. But many people fear what could be coming when those protections expire.

The pandemic has been devastating for many renters across Virginia, and those who are struggling to pay the rent will eventually face a choice — figure out a way to pay up or be evicted.

Senator Chap Petersen is a Democrat from Fairfax City who says he's uncomfortable with efforts to require landowners apply for federal assistance before evicting anyone. "I think they have a right to take the property back and just sort of putting all these hurdles up against them, we're changing the terms of the contracts," Petersen argues. "These people already have written leases. They have residential leases, and to try to add these additional obstacles, it's not correct."

He tried and failed to amend the spending plan for federal stimulus dollars to carve out an exemption for small-scale landlords, people who have only a handful of properties.

Christie Marra at the Virginia Poverty Law Center says she's glad that idea failed. "I don't think it's a lot of hassle," Marra says. "I think it's pretty streamlined, and even more importantly beginning this summer there are people called rental assistance navigators who can help small landlords and big landlords apply for this funding."

Landlords in Virginia are required to apply for federal assistance before evicting anyone until June of next year.

Click here for more information about rental assistance

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.