NoVA Tenant Organizing Working Group
The NoVA Tenant Organizing Working Group was formed to support the rent strike at the Southern Towers complex in Alexandria. Hundreds of tenants were unable to pay rent after losing their jobs due to COVID-19 and decided to work collectively to prevent each other from being evicted with the rallying cry of “No job? No Rent!” NoVA Tenant Organizers have begun to expand to other apartment complexes to talk to tenants about how they can organize with their neighbors to avoid eviction and demand better conditions from their landlords.
Why organize tenants? It is easy for the landlord or a politician to avoid a person individually, but when tenants come together and put pressure on the landlord or our elected leaders as a group, they become much harder to ignore. Millions of Virginians have missed a rent payment or fear they will not make next month’s payment. We are stronger together—stronger than our landlords and strong enough to make our representatives legislate in the people’s best interest. Workers that have been laid off due to a global pandemic should not be evicted or go into debt to repay back rent. But we have no power to make these demands without a collective voice.
If you are interested in learning more or getting involved in tenant action in NoVa, use this form to contact us!
Know Your Rights As a Tenant
VA Rent Relief: The Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) may provide financial assistance for rent or mortgage payments for eligible households. This includes financial assistance for rent or mortgage payments past due beginning April 1, 2020 and onward. See if you’re eligible.
Are you facing eviction? Please get in contact with us! We want to help you fight for your rights and stay in your home. REMEMBER: It is illegal for your landlord to try to evict you by force, or by changing locks, cutting utilities, or other forms of harassment. You cannot be evicted until you have lost your case before a judge in court. You can also contact the NoVa Legal Aid Justice Center at 703-778-3450 or Legal Services of Northern Virginia 703-778-6800.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium was put into effect September 4th and lasts until the end of the year. The moratorium prevents any eviction due to nonpayment of rent, but is not an automatic protection from eviction and comes with a number of conditions, such as income requirements. If you are eligible, you must submit a signed declaration to their landlord. More information on this can be found from Legal Services of Northern Virginia.
If you are not able to utilize the CDC moratorium, there are other ways to stay in your home. You cannot be evicted from your home unless the landlord follows the full procedure!
If your eviction is about unpaid rent, your landlord should have given you a “5 day notice to pay rent or quit.” This is a notice that you have 5 days to either pay rent owed or move out of the rental unit. You do not have to move out. If you don’t pay rent in 5 days, the landlord can then go to court and file an eviction lawsuit (called an “unlawful detainer”) against you.
COURT SUMMONS: After the 5 days in the pay or quit notice have passed, your landlord can file an eviction lawsuit in court. You should receive a “SUMMONS FOR UNLAWFUL DETAINER” with the General District Court. The summons will include the date and time of your court hearing.
BE SURE TO GO TO COURT IF YOU GET A NOTICE! It is very important that you show up on time for your court hearing. If you do not show up on time, your landlord will automatically win the lawsuit against you and you will get evicted. If you are afraid to go to Court for fear of catching Covid-19, you can call the clerk (General District Court, Civil Cases) at 703-746-4021 and ask that your case be done as a “remote hearing.” You will be able to appear before the judge by telephone or using a computer.
60-day continuance for COVID-19 loss of income: If you are in court for an unpaid rent eviction, and you can prove that you lost income between March 16 and June 10 because of the COVID-19 emergency, you can get your court hearing postponed for 60 days. You have to ask the judge for a “sixty day continuance.” Bring to court any paperwork you have that proves your income loss:
- a paystub showing zero dollars in earnings
- a furlough notification from your employer
- an “essential employee status letter” stating that you are “nonessential”
- a signed affidavit by you stating that you lost wages during this period due to the COVID-19 emergency
If the judge grants your request, you’ll have sixty more days where we can push to win an eviction moratorium or other protection. You get to stay in your home during this time.
Contacts and Resources
Get in contact with us: https://tinyurl.com/NoVaTenants
Local Housing Offices
- Alexandria Office of Housing
- Arlington County Housing
- Fairfax County Housing and Community Development
- Fairfax City
- Falls Church Housing & Human Services
- Fauquier County
- Loudoun County Housing Office
- Prince William County (includes Manassas and Manassas Park) Housing and Community Development
General District Court Contacts
- Alexandria, Civil Cases: 703-746-4021
- Arlington, General: 703-228-7900
- Fairfax, Civil: 703-246-3012
- Falls Church Civil: 703-248-5098
- Loudoun County, General: 703-777-0312
- Prince William, General: 703-792-6149
Other Virginia Resources
- Alexandria Emergency Rental Assistance: alexandriava.gov/Housing 703-746-4311
- Virginia DHCD Rent and Mortgage Relief Program – dhcd.virginia.gov/rmrp
- Virginia Housing COVID-related resources https://www.vhda.com/about/Pages/VH-COVID19.aspx
- Virginia Legal Aid – VaLegalAid.org 866-LEGL-AID / 866-534-5243
- Eviction Legal Helpline – 833-NO-EVICT / 833-663-8428
- Legal Aid Justice Center – justice4all.org 804-643-1086
- Legal Services of Northern Virgina – http://www.lsnv.org/ 703-778-6800
- Virginia Poverty Law Center – vplc.org Eviction Help-Line: 833-NO-EVICT / 833-663-8428
- Information on the 60 day continuance – tinyurl.com/60dayContinue
(NOTE: This list is not complete and there is no complete list of properties covered by the CARES Act).