Eviction Spotlight: Getting evicted after reporting sexual assault

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

We often hear that tenants are the problem when it comes to evictions and that landlord harassment only comes from a few “bad apples,” but we witness many landlords taking advantage of low-income Virginians through our Eviction Legal Helpline. The Eviction Spotlight series seeks to shed light on these stories.

Mary*, a 70-year-old woman renting a room in a rooming house in Richmond, had been sexually assaulted by another tenant living in the house and had obtained a temporary restraining order against the offender.

After the sheriff’s office came to serve the restraining order on the offender, Mary received an eviction notice because of her landlord’s strict policy that tenants are not to call law enforcement to the house. Fearing another assault, Mary was too scared to leave her room but was also afraid to seek a longer-term restraining order against the offender. With no family in the area or community to help her, she felt trapped and unsafe in her home.

Mary’s Department of Social Services social worker eventually referred her to our Eviction Legal Helpline. VPLC instructed her to send her lease, termination notice, and paperwork from the restraining order to review and find her a legal aid attorney who could help fight the eviction.

Thankfully, Mary was able to quickly move to a safer living environment.

*Name has been changed to protect the client’s identity.

VPLC and Virginia legal aid programs are working for stronger legal protections and better enforcement of the law that will benefit all Virginians. If you have questions or concerns around evictions in Virginia, call our Eviction Legal Helpline at 1-833-NoEvict. 

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