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(The Center Square) – Both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation that force landlords to provide payment plans for tenants before they can proceed with evictions.

A tenant who is behind on rent would be able to pay back the debt to a landlord with equal monthly installments over the course of six months or until the rental agreement expires, whichever is less time. Within five days of the landlord providing the payment plan, a tenant would have to provide the first payment or an alternative payment plan acceptable to the landlord.

The monthly installments can include any late fees accrued because of the previous missed payments, but the landlord would not be able to include additional fees to such payments as long as the tenant is paying his or her rent in accordance with the payment plan. If a tenant fails to pay the landlord within the five days or misses a payment while the plan is in effect, the landlord would be allowed to pursue an eviction.

House Bill 5064 and Senate Bill 5088, which would establish the payment plan requirements, would apply only to landlords who own more than four dwelling units or who have at least a 10 percent interest in four dwelling units.

Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to sign the bill, which sunsets July 1, 2021.

Lawmakers also are considering legislation that would prohibit a landlord from taking adverse action against a tenant or denying a rental application solely because of poor credit or an eviction for nonpayment of rent that occurs between March 12, 2020, and 30 days after the governor’s COVID-19 state of emergency ends.

This legislation went to a joint House and Senate conference committee, but lawmakers in both chambers failed to adopt the conference report. If lawmakers come to an agreement in a second conference committee, the legislation will receive another vote in the chambers.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.