Evictions Ramp up in Virginia as Local Courts Decline Governor’s Request to Continue Moratorium
Courts around Virginia began working their way through a backlog of more than 12,000 eviction cases last week as a statewide moratorium expired, with many judges apparently declining a last-minute request from Gov. Ralph Northam to continue the stay at the local level.
District courts docketed more than 1,600 eviction lawsuits last week, with judges awarding $1.4 million in cash judgments to landlords, according to online docket information compiled by open government groups virginiacourtdata.org.
That’s 600 more cases than courts heard the same week last year, according to the data. However, the numbers also show a slight shift in the outcome of the cases in favor of tenants, with landlords winning judgments in 23 percent of cases, down from 41 percent at the same time last year.
“There have been some default judgments when people did not show up and it was determined that their property didn’t fall under the CARES Act. “For the most part though, there have been a lot of continuances,” said Janae Craddock, a housing attorney with the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society who works out of an office in the courthouse and has been monitoring dockets to ensure property owners covered by the CARES Act didn’t seek eviction judgments.
But advocates worried that CARES Act protections are set to expire soon and that not all courts are requiring landlords to proactively testify that they are not prohibited from pursuing evictions under the law.
It remains to be seen how many tenants will seek aid and how many landlords will agree to the attached terms, which require a commitment to either waive some unpaid rent or wait at least six months before pursuing an eviction again.