Eviction Spotlight: Woman with P.h.D. fights eviction with assistance from the Helpline

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Christina,* a single woman with a Ph.D. but a temporary disruption in her work, got behind on her rent, and her landlord filed an Unlawful Detainer. She contacted the Helpline and sent in copies of the notices she had received along with her lease. A Helpline attorney reviewed everything she sent and informed her that she didn’t seem to have a legal defense, but since she hadn’t had any eviction lawsuits filed against her by this landlord in the past, if she could get together all the money she owed—including the landlord’s court filing fee, attorney fees, and current rent—she could pay that by the first court date, and the case would be dismissed.

She did that, taking care of the problem. But the landlord’s attorney didn’t tell that to the judge and instead took a default judgment for possession and over $1,000. The Helpline attorney, following up with Christina, luckily noticed what had happened a few weeks later just before the deadline to ask the court for a new trial. Because her income was too high to qualify for legal aid, the Helpline attorney advised her how to file the proper paperwork and present her case to ask the court to reverse the judgment. Following the attorney’s instructions, Christina filed the motion on her own and got the judgment reversed and dismissed, keeping her tenant record clean so it won’t limit her future housing prospects.

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

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. 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.

Evictions are at crisis levels in Virginia. Advice from a lawyer can make all the difference for a tenant facing eviction. VPLC’s Eviction Legal Helpline is having an impact but needs help to serve more Virginians. Learn about volunteering with us.

 

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