Eviction Spotlight: Senior woman faces eviction from landlord over missing rent from housing authority

Monday, June 24th, 2019

At VPLC, 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.

Ms. White* is an African American senior citizen living on her own in a home she can afford because she has a Section 8 voucher. The home is old, and her landlord seems uninterested in performing any maintenance. She has to remind the landlord continuously of repairs she has reported and he has said he would complete with little result, but she is afraid she won’t be able to find other affordable housing if the home is condemned or the landlord refuses to renew her lease.

Even though she pays her rent on time every month, in early March, the landlord sent her a “Pay or Quit” notice stating that she was more than a month behind on rent and that if she didn’t pay nearly twice her monthly rent amount within five days of the notice, she would be taken to court and evicted. Ms. White got a copy of her tenant ledger from the landlord and learned the problem was that the landlord was missing a monthly payment from the housing authority from several months earlier. Even so, the landlord still threatened to evict her if she didn’t pay what they said was owed. When Ms. White contacted the Eviction Legal Helpline for advice, she was desperately worried she could lose her housing shortly.

The Helpline staff attorney was able to reassure her that, despite the landlord’s threats, it is illegal to evict her based on the housing authority’s failure to pay their portion of the rent. That knowledge was a great relief for Ms. White, and the landlord subsequently backed down and did not try to file an unlawful detainer against her. Advice on properly demanding repairs has also resulted in some progress in getting conditions improved in her home.

* The client’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

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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