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Use rent relief program

The Virginia Rent Relief Program exists to help people pay rent to landlords going back to April 1, 2020, but the program has been very underused since it started.

There are millions of dollars available to help Virginia tenants and landlords, but unfortunately, not enough people know about this program to use it.

A CDC moratorium on eviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court last week, but new protections are in place in Virginia. The protections rely on applying for the Rent Relief Program.

Landlords who wish to evict a household that has suffered financial hardship due to the pandemic must give tenants a 14-day notice and inform them of the Rent Relief Program. They must also apply for the program on the tenant’s behalf unless the tenant pays in full, enters a payment plan or has already applied for the program. Tenants can also apply on their own.

Only if a tenant is found not eligible, refused to cooperate or not approved in writing for 45 days, or if the program runs out of money, can the landlord then evict the tenant.

The program can pay rent going back to April 1, 2020, and provide for up to three months of future payments if needed. It will also pay late fees, court costs and attorney fees. No money has to be paid back.

In early August, Amy Disel Allman with the Virginia Legal Aid Society said the program offers a fresh start.

“The goal of paying all of that,” Allman said, “is to catch the person, the tenant, up completely and give them a fresh start to be able to move forward on their own, successfully, with the landlord and keep their tenants safe — keep the home, keep the roof over their head and be able to stay.”

We urge tenants and landlords in Virginia to take advantage of this important program. It is there to help people, but it cannot help those who do not apply.

Those looking to apply for the Rent Relief Program or have questions about the program can go online to bit.ly/RRPReferral or call 1-833-663-8428, press 4, and leave a message. People can also call the Virginia Legal Aid helpline for assistance at 1-866-995-5595.