In an era of heightened political tension, people tend to focus on controversial issues or issues that elicit strong support or opposition. As REALTORS®, we sometimes must engage in those types of policy discussions.
However, the bulk of our time is spent in the middle grey of the legislative process, working with legislators and stakeholders to find compromise (which is not always a bad thing) on solutions to legitimate problems. Our Government Relations team has emphasized this type of work for years, and 2021 is no different.
In 2018, after Princeton University published research identifying several Virginia localities as having some of the highest eviction rates in the nation, our association took proactive steps to address the issue. We promoted policies to stop unsavory practices of “slumlords.” We pushed initiatives that give tenants who are in a financial pinch the flexibility to stay in their home, which benefits both the tenant and the housing provider by avoiding the difficult eviction process.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought concerns over evictions into sharp focus again. For several months, our team has worked with Delegate Cia Price of Newport News, and other stakeholders, to develop legislation to help tenants remain in stable housing during the pandemic and beyond. In the 2021 legislative session, our association is supporting Price’s HB 1889 to help accomplish this goal.
Two key provisions of the legislation include:
- Requiring all landlords to wait 14 days, rather than 5, after the late payment notice before they can move forward with remedies to terminate the lease. This provision will give tenants a little extra time to come up with the rent.
- For housing providers who own 5 or more properties, requiring them to offer a payment plan to the tenant. The payment plan would be equal payments, in addition to the regular rent, for 6 months or the remainder of the lease if less than 6 months are remaining. If a tenant fails to keep up with the payment plan or regular rent, the landlord can proceed with terminating the lease.
After consulting with our members who practice property management, we found that many of our housing providers already work with tenants in these ways. By adding this to state law, it standardizes the practice across Virginia and protects our members from potential Fair Housing liabilities.
Coupling legislation like this with efforts to boost funding for rental assistance and streamline initiatives like Virginia’s Rent Relief Program benefit both tenants and landlords.
This is just one example of where our team works on your behalf to make good public policies for all Virginians. If you have questions or thoughts about our advocacy efforts, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.