Public Comments for 01/14/2021 General Laws - Housing/Consumer Protection Subcommittee
HB1824 - Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act; required disclosures for buyer to beware, mold.
Last Name: Bradshaw Organization: Independent Insurance Agents of Virginia Locality: Richmond

Good luck to consumer. Insurance likely won't cover.

Last Name: Johnson Locality: Mechanicsville

Plz stop

Last Name: Powell Locality: Virginia Beach

On October 15th, 2020, my wife and I purchased a property in Virginia Beach. We took every possibly precaution to properly inspect the house before our purchase. We hired the home inspector that our buyer's agent recommend and consulted several specialists to verify the property had no significant issues. Each assured us that the house was sound. While preparing to move our belongings in to the property, we were greeted by at least three neighbors who informed us each on separate occasions that the property had a severe mold issue; and the tenants who had previously rented the house from the sellers recently had vacated the property due to serious health complications from mold exposure. This caused us to have serious concerns regarding as to what was known and potentially concealed regarding the condition of the property during the purchase process. On October 20th, we hired Emergency Restoration Services to perform a mold analysis of the property, which showed the house contained elevated mold levels. It was apparent to us during the process of investigating the mold problem that mold was becoming visible in multiple areas of the house which had been recently painted over. Due to health concerns, we located the prior tenants and inquired of them their experience in the property as tenants. They provided us with information that the property had not been properly maintained and as a result suffered from a large scale mold issue. Correspondence between the previous tenants and the property management company proved that the mold issue was made known to Team Fusion Real Estate company (who were hired by the sellers of the house to maintain the property). When the management company made the sellers aware of the issue, they refused any efforts to bring the mold under control; and confirmation they did indeed know about an underlying issue that would have allowed us the privilege to do more research if they were to have disclosed it ahead of time. Upon further investigation, we hired McKee Environmental services to perform a visual inspection of the property. Initial results proved reports of airborne mold levels inside the house at over six times the same tests run outside. As a result of the undisclosed mold, we have incurred to date an additional $37,166.99 in spending for remediation efforts. This number does not include the countless hours of renovation; many of which come at the sacrifice of time with our family. We feel as if we have done everything as we're supposed to do: worked long hours, built significant equity in a previous home, and were frugal with our spending in order to purchase a home. Unfortunately, due to a preventable situation with a simple disclosure, we have seen our financial independence ruined. We are also the parents of two amazing young children: a 10-year old son and a 6-year old daughter. Our 10 year old was diagnosed at birth with significant heart issues, a ventricular septic defect and a bicuspid aortic valve. While we've been blessed to never have any major health episodes with these underlying conditions, I have spent many sleepless nights thinking about what would have happened had I moved him in to that house and what the unknown mold issues would have done to his health. I would have never forgiven myself if a known issue that could have been prevented by a disclosure caused him significant health issues. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Zausmer Locality: Virginia Beach

My husband, our 18 month old, and myself went without power for 4 days, along with 3 other apartments in our building all of whom also have children between 2 months and 2 years (at the time of occurrence) due to poorly maintained electrical work in the building. The apartment manager was told by the electrician they hired that it was possible to hook the building up to temporary power in order to keep the apartments liveable as it was in the middle of a heat wave with average temperatures around 93 degrees, however the manager declined in order to save money. They then proceeded to refuse further contact with the electrician, the electric company who was required to come shut down all power, the city who needed to give them permission, and all the residents involved. This continued for 4 days until my husband took over and did all the coordination himself. The apartment manager refused to compensate anyone for their hotel charges and to this day refuses to communicate with anyone at any time. We also learned from a neighbor that the previous tenants were relocated due to an uncontrollable mold issue. I'm unsure what they attempted to resolve it, as we are now experiencing the same issues and nothing has been done to resolve it. Both my husband and my son are developing respiratory issues as a result of the overwhelming stench of mold in the bathroom and it can be seen from the vents. We were never told about this, and are now seeking new living arrangements.

Last Name: Ruffin Organization: N/A Locality: Henrico

I would like to see the Law Passed that the Landlords have to give Tenants 5 Days Grace Periods with out Penalties. Also A Landlord Can Not Evict Or Not Renew A Tenant Lease For taken Legal Actions Against Them

HB1842 - Property owners' associations & unit owners' associations; rulemaking authority concerning smoking.
Last Name: nicholls Locality: Chesapeake

1842 - too much overreach into what people can do within their homes.

HB1900 - Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; tenant remedies for exclusion from dwelling unit.
Last Name: Dalrymple Organization: NAACP Locality: Richmond VA

I would like to present my situation to Congress based on the living conditions that i had to endure while living under a slumlord. I now make 62k a year and I cant even find a place to live due to the unjust and unequal balance of power given to Landlords. Im a living example of how these laws affect our lives.

Last Name: Hatcher Organization: Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy Locality: Richmond

Good Morning Chairperson and Members of the Committee, I writing in favor of HB1900. Although a court process exists for landlords and tenants to resolve lease disputes, some unprofessional landlords ignore the law and use unscrupulous “self-help” means, such as cutting off heat or electricity, removing front doors, or changing locks, to force tenants out of their homes with no notice and no chance to plead their case before a judge. HB1900 ensures unlawful eviction cases are heard quickly by requiring courts to hold an initial hearing within five days. It also adds a statutory damages provision to the law. The wider faith community often espouses the belief in basic human rights- with housing being one of those basic human rights. But I’m honored to represent the faith community in Virginia, which is organized and aware of the structural issues that prevent folks from truly being able to have those basic rights upheld. We at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy believe HB1900 will provide essential support to prevent and deter unlawful evictions from occurring in the Commonwealth. We hope you will vote in favor of HB1900.

Last Name: Nicholls Locality: Chesapeake

Someone explain to me that giving a tenant rights over the property of an owner, is going to do anything positive in the future overall for the economy? In addition, the *owner* of a property has the rights to their own property, not someone else, and definitely not the govt. This is prioritizing the rights of one group over another, putting a challenge in court system*s*, that will lose and cost the taxpayers. If you make it so that people can't rent properties out and control them (versus a govt. that cant solve problems, especially logically), they'll dump those properties, and if you think banks/commercial interests are going to make them cheaply available, you need a elementary economics course. Just look at Dr. Walter E. Williams legacy or Dr. Thomas Sowell.

Last Name: Eaddy Organization: Tidewater Tenants Rights Locality: Hampton City

Hello My name is Margaret Eaddy, my husband John and i were evicted in a deadly pandemic by a property owner/ landlord on September 29, 2020. This landlord received possession and put us out in the streets. We fought in Hampton City General District Courts with the documents that the CDC had handed out to all Federal, State and local entities. This landlord was still able to evict us and also turn around and garnish my husband wages. These two Bills, "HB1900" as well as "HB1889" are essential to constituents like my husband and i. I truly know that if we would have had more time to fight this landlord who have/had no compassion for her tenants in a dire time of crisis, we would of been able to stay sheltered in place. Instead of being put out of the property to live in our vehicle and be terrified that we would catch Covid 19 and die. These bills being introduce would stop this cycle of eviction that put families out in the streets. And give families a chance to use their tenants rights to stay in their dwellings. My husband and i have been featured on CBS Sunday Morning with Ted Koppel on the rising alarming evictions in our area as well as the whole country. We are speaking to all news outlets to let others know that this is a real horrific situation going on in the Commonwealth Of Virginia. Their are 35,000 families and counting that have been evicted or facing eviction soon. And as a family that has already been through this absolutely terrifying, horrific eviction process, we know that some families have no voice or are to ashamed to speak out. Virginia, can set a goal to stop the landlords, property owners, agents who have their very tenants lives in the palm of their hands. Eviction is an traumatizing act that can cause mental as well as physical pain. Your whole livelihood stripped away in a matter of days, weeks, or months, but lingers with the tenants for years to come through the system of public records, in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If my husband and i could of have this vital time to continue to fight with the organizations that are put in place to help us maybe it would of kept us out of our vehicle. We ask that you all pass this into law, because we need more safeguards for the tenants. We have nothing to stand on now as it is, for the property owners always come out on top while the tenants fall victim to homelessness and a battery of overwhelming issues that effects all families in the long haul. My husband and i are just a small part of a huge problem in Virginia, and if we have something that eases the pain of eviction it is something that we can look to for hope instead of dread and pain. Thank you all for helping us to help others... John and Margaret Eaddy.

Last Name: Tyndall Locality: Norfolk

I am for this provision because tenants rights seem to be secondary to the landlord's demands. The term "Slum Lord" is real but that is pushed to the side ; however, tenants who don't pay is escalated to the highest power. As has been proven during this pandemic. If there were only home owners, where would these landlords be? The provision of HB1900 should not only be enforced but it should also include the assurance that, not only can a tenant be taking to court and have fines and penalties to pay, but a landlord should have the same fate when they don't uphold the living conditions that the tenant is paying for!

Last Name: Yoon Organization: NAKASEC Virginia Locality: Fairfax

Dear delegates, My name is Yasmin Yoon and I represent the organization NAKASEC Virginia. We work primarily with Asian American immigrants. Due to the pandemic, my community members have lost jobs and either have been living in fear of being evicted or have been unlawfully evicted. As immigrants who usually don’t speak English or speak English as a second language, my community members often choose to preemptively “self-evict” in fear of coming into conflict with landlords, especially when landlords threaten to involve law enforcement or damage the tenants’ possessions and home. As a result of self-eviction, several of my community members have had to leave their home and move out of state. By passing HB 1900, the state of Virginia would be reinforcing tenants rights, and preventing “self-evictions” from happening again. With the passage of HB 1900, I hope that my community members can protect themselves against unlawful actions by landlords.

Last Name: Rentas Locality: Richmond

I am a current tenant in Richmond, as well as a past resident of Virginia Beach, and I am writing in support of HB1900. This bill needs to be passed to address the lack of accountability landlords face, as well as the lack of effective laws in place to deter unlawful evictions. My neighbors and I should have the right to a court hearing within 5-days of filing a petition if our landlord were to perform a self-help eviction on us. A statutory damages provision is a necessary consequence landlords should face for breaking the law and putting people out on the street. Unimaginable amounts of trauma and loss can occur after being evicted, and tenants deserve automatic payment if their landlord is found guilty of a self-help eviction.

Last Name: Larkin Locality: Virginia Beach

My name is Delaney, I am a resident of Virginia Beach, and I am writing in support of HB1900. This bill would help residents of the commonwealth by ensuring landlords do not perform extrajudicial "self-help" evictions, by enforcing statutory damages on landlords that carry out these unlawful evictions. Existing law for "actual damages" is often insufficient in making up for the loss tenants face due to the eviction, and it is often difficult to provide indisputable evidence to prove damages. The statutory damages aspect of this proposed bill would alleviate the burden placed on tenants, and would be a step towards holding landlords accountable for illegal actions, as well as serving as a deterrence. The proposed 5-day hearing requirement for the tenants “Petition for Relief from Unlawful Exclusion” is also needed to ensure tenants' unlawful evictions are rectified as soon as possible, and not on the landlords timeline, but the tenants. I personally know several tenants who have experienced things like landlords turning off the heat, or refusing to fix bursted pipes in order to evict/drive the tenants out of the home by creating unsafe living conditions. Instances like these, as well as instances like changing the locks, put tenants at risk of losing shelter, food, belongings, jobs, school, health, and peace of mind.

Last Name: Johnson Locality: Mechanicsville

Plz stop

Last Name: Marra Organization: Virginia Poverty Law Center Locality: Richmond City

HB1900 strengthens the protections against unlawful evictions. Under current law, while it is unlawful for a landlord to use "self-help" such as terminating essential utilities or changing the locks to evict a tenant instead of following the proper legal process for eviction, there are no real consequences for a landlord who uses self-help. While the law allows a judge to order a landlord to reimburse the tenant for any money the unlawful eviction cost him, it is difficult if not impossible to place a monetary loss on sleeping in one's car or on a friend's couch for days or weeks. So, most landlords leave court with nothing more than a stern lecture from the judge and an admonition to do things legally. Predictably, this has not deterred landlords from using unlawful self-help to evict tenants. In fact, the instances of these unlawful evictions seemed to have risen during the pandemic. HB1900 adds teeth to the statute that makes self-help evictions unlawful by adding a statutory damages (or penalty) provision of $5000 or the equivalent of four months' rent, whichever is greater. This hefty consequence should deter most of the unprofessional landlords from using self-help evictions.

Last Name: Williams Organization: Nolef Turns Locality: Richmond, VA

This pandemic has exposed cracks in all of our systems that have been breaking for decades. Housing is no different. Since the beginning of the pandemic, our organization has been providing rent and eviction support for individuals and families. We have, unfortunately, seen the worst situations unfold right before our eyes. Too many times, we have had to assist families with hotel stays who have been evicted unlawfully. In the middle of winter and in the middle of an ongoing crisis, electricity has been cut off, water has been cut off, supply lines to the HVAC unit have been removed, copper pipes have been removed from beneath houses, locks have been broken and landlords have refused to fix safety issues - using this as an excuse to evict tenants on short notice. Housing insecurities are the number one barrier that people are worried about right now. Many people have been forced to work less for little pay, many have been shut out of the relief options that they should qualify for and far too many have had to choose between taking care of their children and working dangerous jobs that could potentially expose them to COVID-19. In addition to the multitude of barriers that are keeping people from being able to sustain during this pandemic are landlords who have little compassion for children and families who have nowhere else to go. We have received calls in the middle of the night, at 6am, on weekends and at all hours of the day and night asking for support. While there are plenty of landlords who have gone out of their way to provide the best service to their tenants, there are too many landlords who have taken advantage of the courts being closed and families being in vulnerable situations and have unlawfully removed families or done things to threaten the safety, health and well-being of those families until they have no other options than to leave the property. This should be a stain on the profession and should no longer be tolerated. Virginia leads the nation in evictions; this is nothing to be proud of. Imagine the families who have no means of relief because they don't ever get a court date; they don't even get the benefit of sufficient notice to find other suitable housing. There is not a price that can be placed on having to sleep in your car with 3 small children or having to sleep in the doorways of businesses until they open in the morning. There is no price on being shut out of the one place you've called home at a moment's notice and not having the ability to even retrieve your personal items because you're told you have 3 hours to get everything and go. Morally, this is unacceptable; this bill will hopefully be a deterrent to those who violate a tenant's rights but if it does not send a strong enough message to let landlords know that this behavior is unacceptable, this bill will provide appropriate protections. I support HB1900.

Last Name: Head Locality: Richmond

Hello delegates, I am writing on behalf of myself and all tenants in the Commonwealth in support of HB1900. It is imperative that tenants who are unlawfully evicted have timely access to real justice. Under the current law many tenants who have been unlawfully evicted have to wait weeks, sometimes even months to have their day in court. These are folks who have been illegally put out of their homes and the financial and emotional toll of being forced out illegally absolutely cannot be overstated. They may not have 3 weeks of waiting, especially if they have families. Some may have to relocate and would never get their day in court. It is only just and fair that these cases be prioritized. The folks who have been unlawfully evicted may have the opportunity to seek financial restitution under the current law, but that process should not be seperate from the original judgement. Currently there is no real punishment for landlords that break the law by skirting the mandated court process and that, in many ways, encourages them to act unlawfully. There needs to be a real penalty for breaking this law for the purposes of, in many cases, forcing a person or family into homelessness. Additionally, the current process for financial restitution necessitates that folks provide receipts for the expenses they incurred while illegally evicted. This does not take into account people who end up living in cars or on their friends floors or couches, families that have to send their children to a friend or relative just so they have somewhere warm to sleep while they stay, alone, on the street. The emotional and mental strain and trauma of being illegally evicted is very real and people deserve financial restitution for that as well. This bill provides that for these unlawfully evicted tenants. This bill serves to rectify a wrong that has been passively allowed for too long. It is a necessary law, and I pray that I see it signed this session. Thank you.

Last Name: Landsheft Locality: Virginia Beach

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that the current laws in place to protect tenants against unlawful evictions are inadequate in many states throughout the country, and unfortunately the Commonwealth of Virginia is no exception. Despite the current protective measures in place, HB1900 aims to address some of their key shortcomings that allow unlawful evictions to continue in Virginia without appropriate repercussions. Hearings do not come quickly enough to prevent landlords who are willing to use tactics such as shutting off the heat in the middle of winter in an attempt to force tenants out of their homes, something that is not only unlawful but totally immoral. Additionally, because actual damages are rarely sufficient to make tenants whole, landlords may find it to their advantage to "roll the dice" when making the choice to deliberately circumvent eviction laws. HB1900 would provide better protection to tenants by reducing the maximum time frame before an initial hearing to five days, and add a statutory damages provision that would provide a more effective deterrent for unlawful eviction practices. It would be shameful for us as both Virginians and Americans to continue to allow our neighbors to be treated like this on any given day, but to do so at a time when so many people are at their most vulnerable due to factors completely outside of their control would be an outright moral failure.

Last Name: Zausmer Locality: Virginia Beach

My husband, our 18 month old, and myself went without power for 4 days, along with 3 other apartments in our building all of whom also have children between 2 months and 2 years (at the time of occurrence) due to poorly maintained electrical work in the building. The apartment manager was told by the electrician they hired that it was possible to hook the building up to temporary power in order to keep the apartments liveable as it was in the middle of a heat wave with average temperatures around 93 degrees, however the manager declined in order to save money. They then proceeded to refuse further contact with the electrician, the electric company who was required to come shut down all power, the city who needed to give them permission, and all the residents involved. This continued for 4 days until my husband took over and did all the coordination himself. The apartment manager refused to compensate anyone for their hotel charges and to this day refuses to communicate with anyone at any time. We also learned from a neighbor that the previous tenants were relocated due to an uncontrollable mold issue. I'm unsure what they attempted to resolve it, as we are now experiencing the same issues and nothing has been done to resolve it. Both my husband and my son are developing respiratory issues as a result of the overwhelming stench of mold in the bathroom and it can be seen from the vents. We were never told about this, and are now seeking new living arrangements.

Last Name: Hardney Scott Organization: NAACP Locality: Richmond

On behalf of your constituents, I strongly urge you to work with members of the Virginia House and Virginia Senate to pass legislation this session that aligns with the Virginia NAACP 2021 Legislative Priorities. I’m especially urging you to support the passing of HB 1889 , HB1900. Each of these pieces of legislation provides the necessary and much needed protection of tenant rights and prevention of illegal evictions. The passing of policy during the 2020 special session requiring landlords to give a 14 day notice in lieu of the required 5 day notification has proven to be very effective in saving homes and making landlords whole.HB1889 will make this policy permanent. HB1900 is also critical. It is time those landlords who reap the benefits from renting be held accountable when they violate the law concerning lease terminations and evictions. Throughout this pandemic we have experienced an increase in illegal evictions which included the diminishing of service, removal of meters, lockouts, harassment and extortion. We must hold those that choose to violate policy accountable. and provide a way for the renter to regain furnishing, clothing, and personal items lost due to an illegal eviction. Systemic racism has manifested as a determinant to public health through persistent racial disparities in criminal justice, housing, education, health care, employment, worker protections, climate, outdoor access, food access, and technology. The Virginia NAACP has outlined a long list of priorities that they sent to your office on January 12, 2021. You can also review them online at: https://vscnaacp.org/2021-legislative-priorities/. Your constituents are counting on you to lead on these issues that impact Black Virginians and Virginians of color. I look forward to your response and to working with you to ensure that we meet the needs of Black Virginians during this upcoming legislative session.

Last Name: Vandivere Locality: Centreville

My comments support both of these bills. HB1889: This removes the sunset clause on a bill passed in the 2020 special session. The bill imposes requirements on landlords before filing an eviction lawsuit. The effect of these requirements should reduce the number of evictions that actually occur by giving tenants a chance to catch up on arears. This benefits everyone and specifically could reduce costs to the landlord, and much more serious loss to the tenant. It sounds to me like a win-win for everyone, especially in the era of a pandemic. HB1900: This bill addresses the problem of do-it-yourself evicters of tenants who are behind on rent. As I understand, this bill adds "teeth" to a 2013 bill that allowed unlawfully evicted tenants to file a claim to regain access. In 2020, clarification was added that addressed the urgency of the case. But this year, a requirement is added that allows a damages provision of $5000 to be paid by the landlord in such cases. This should deter many unlawful evictions and has largely the same benefit as HB1889 in reducing the time and money lost by both landlord and tenant. I support this for the same reason.

Last Name: Hayes Organization: Lega Aid Justice Center Locality: Richmond

I am in full support of HB1889 Giving the tenant 14 days vs 5 day late notice Landlord MUST offer the tenants a payment plan on back rent before pursuing eviction. Require landlords to give 6 months or until the end of the lease to pay off the single missed payment. HB 1900 I am in full support of unlawful eviction protection for tenants Thank you Cora Hayes Landlords MUST

Last Name: Hegde Organization: Tidewater Tenants Rights Locality: Norfolk, Virginia

I am a member of Tidewater Tenants Rights, a group started in the pandemic to support the thousands in our area facing eviction during the pandemic. What we’ve seen in Virginia the past few months, despite the CDC moratorium, is a human rights and public health crisis. We have worked with families, many with young children, struggling to pay back rent due to loss of income and struggling to navigate social services at the last minute. Children and adults are facing immediate homelessness due to lack of adequate protections. Tenants deserve more. We need fair payment plans and enough time to plan ahead - so families aren’t scrambling to find adequate shelter in the winter. Housing is a human right & evicting families throughout the pandemic is a human rights crisis.

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