COVID-19 Coronavirus FAQs for Tenants and Landlords

Housing & Food Assistance, phone 7032281300, help with rent and expenses, homelessness prevention, eviction prevention, food assistance and help with other vital social service needsCOVID-19 Information, phone 7032287999, testing information, prevention, status of government operations, services and public facilities more at www.cdc.govDomestic Violence, phone 703 2370881, Arlington's hotline for sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, dial 911 for immediate medical or life threatening emergency

WHO TO CALL

Housing & Food Assistance

Help with rent and expenses
Homelessness prevention
Eviction prevention
Food assistance
Help with other vital social service needs 

COVID-19 Information

703-228-7999
COVID-19 testing information
How to prevent COVID-19
Status of government operations, services, and public facilities
More: www.cdc.gov

Domestic Violence

703-237-0881
Arlington's hotline for sexual assault, domestic and dating violence.
If you have immediate medical or life threatening emergency, dial 911.

FAQs FOR RENTERS

What if I can’t afford this month’s rent?

Contact your landlord as soon as you realize you may not be able to pay rent. Ask if partial payments will be accepted until the rent is paid in full. Write out a payment plan that reflects what you can afford. Additional help with rent and expenses may be available by calling 703-228-1300 or visit the Department of Human Services for more information. You will still need to pay rent regardless.

Can I be evicted?

Yes, if you have not been able to pay your rent the landlord can start the eviction process. However, it does not mean you will have to move immediately. See our eviction prevention page to learn about the process. If you receive a court summons, go to court, and if you can provide written proof that you have been affected by COVID-19, you may be able to get a 60-day postponement for nonpayment of rent.

Do I have to pay a late charge?

Yes, you are still responsible for paying late charges, unless your landlord has waived late fees, such as in AHC properties. However, a new law prohibits your landlord from charging late fees if this charge isn’t provided for in the written rental agreement. Also, late charges can’t be more than 10% of the periodic rent or the remaining balance due, whichever is less.

How is the government protecting me from eviction?

  • If you lost your income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and have been served an eviction notice, you may be able to postpone your case for up to 60 days. Learn more.
  • If you rent in one of the properties which is under a Limited Waiver Agreement with the County, the owner or management company may not charge late fees of evict tenants for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19 related loss of income through December 31, 2020. These properties include: Arbor Heights, Buchanan Gardens, Calvert Manor, Cameron Commons, Columbia Grove, Columbia Hills East, Courthouse Crossings, Gates of Ballston, Fisher House I, Fort Henry Gardens, The Jordan, Leckey Gardens, Marbella, The Shell, The Shelton, Spectrum, The Springs, vPoint, and William Watters. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order to temporarily halt residential evictions that was effective until October 3, 2021. 
  • The General Assembly of the State of Virginia instituted eviction protections in the November 2020 budget. Evictions for non-payment of rent are prohibited through October 3, 2021. Landlords and tenants must cooperate and apply for rental assistance through the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development. After January 1, 2021, the budget requires landlords and tenants to work together to access rent assistance, including through the RMRP, before proceeding with an eviction. Learn more.

Can I break the lease?

Virginia does not allow a breach of lease. You must reach an agreement with your landlord, and you may have to pay some penalties. Review your lease and ask your landlord about other options. 

Where can I find help?

  • Help with rent and expenses can be found via the Housing Assistance number (703-228-1300) and the County’s website. They may also be able to provide referrals for other services. 
  • Landlords and renters can apply directly to the Virginia Rent Relief Program here.

Will asking for help affect my immigration status?

No, calling for help or receiving emergency rental assistance will not be considered a public charge. The County will not ask for your immigration status. 

My apartment’s management office is closed.  How can I find out how they’re addressing COVID-19 issues in my building?

Some complexes have closed their offices to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but are available by telephone, email, or their online portal. Flyers or messages may be posted around your leasing office with an emergency number or additional contact information. Leasing management offices may have reduced in-person support and/or are only responding to emergency cases, so their response may be limited or delayed. 

The County’s Housing Information Center may be able to help you find contact information for your landlord. Call 703-228-3765 or e-mail housingdivision@arlingtonva.us

 A renter in my building is infected with COVID-19.

  • What can I do? 
    You should take action to protect yourself, such as practicing social distancing and frequently washing your hands. See more prevention tips on the County’s website.
  • Will the property manager tell me if my neighbor has COVID-19? 
    Property management does not have to share an active COVID-19 diagnosis with other renters. There may also be privacy issues. You should take action to protect yourself, such as practicing social distancing and frequently washing your hands. See more prevention tips on the County’s website.
  • Can the property manager remove someone with COVID-19 from the building? 
    No, the landlord cannot remove or ask tenants to leave the residence for having COVID-19 or while seeking medical assistance.
  • Is property management required to clean my unit with a cleaning professional in my apartment building? 
    No, they are responsible for cleaning in the common areas, but apartments are the tenant’s responsibility.

I have COVID-19.

  • Do I need to tell my landlord?
     
    No. You are not required to tell your landlord about a COVID-19 diagnosis. However, doing so can help protect building staff and other persons that you may have contacted.
  • Can I be evicted? 
    Your landlord cannot evict you or ask you to leave your residence for having COVID-19 or while seeking medical assistance. You can still go to the court for emergencies, such as if your landlord illegally locks you out.
  • Does the landlord have to provide a place to isolate apart from my family? 
    No, the landlord does not have to provide a place of isolation. If your family is not infected, you can seek alternative venues or isolation places. More information is available on the County’s COVID-19 page.
  • How do I clean and disinfect my home safely? 
    Follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ask your landlord what they are doing to clean and disinfect the common areas.
  • Can I ask my renters insurance to help me pay for the cleaning and disinfecting of the apartment? 
    Check your insurance policy. Most policies will not cover this expense. The landlord cannot require that your place be professionally cleaned and disinfected.

The landlord is trying to show my apartment to prospective renters.  I am afraid of being infected. Is there anything I can do? 

Share your concerns with the landlord and ask if there is another solution, such as a video walkthrough. Most leases have a provision that allows the landlord to bring prospective tenants through the property under specific conditions. It is ultimately up to the landlord to determine whether to enforce this provision or take another approach. If the landlord decides to bring prospective renters into your apartment, it is important to take all appropriate health and safety measures and follow the Virginia Department of Housing guides

My landlord thinks I have COVID-19 and will not let me into my home. What can I do?

Landlords cannot refuse entry or ask you to leave because of fears and stigma around COVID-19. Discrimination or harassment based on actual or perceived race, national origin, disability, or other protected classes is also illegal. If you are facing discrimination and harassment by your landlord, contact the Housing Assistance number (703-228-1300).

Management isn’t enforcing face coverings in the building. What can I do?

The state has issued an order requiring the use of face-coverings in public places; however, this does not apply to public property. The rules of use of masks and enforcement for non-compliance are the responsibility of the property manager. You should protect yourself by keeping social distancing and using face coverings. 

I still have questions. Where can I find more information?

Contact Information
Purpose 
Housing Information Center 
703-228-3765 
For questions about tenant-landlord issues or to help you learn about available resources. 
Arlington County COVID-19 Response Arlington residents can find additional information and subscribe to updates in real-time. 
Families First Coronavirus Response Act  Provides guidance and assistance for emergency family and medical leave, emergency paid sick leave, and emergency unemployment. 
2-1-1  2-1-1 Virginia serves as the statewide clearinghouse for community resources, including rental assistance. 
Dial 7-1-1 for Virginia Relay or 1-800-230-6977 for TTY/hearing impaired calls. 
Virginia Poverty Law Center’s Eviction Helpline 
(833) 663-8428  
Questions or concerns about evictions during the COVID-19 emergency in Virginia 
Renter resources  Housing-related resources. 

FAQs FOR LANDLORDS

Our property management office is closed for COVID-19 and we want tenants to pay their rent online. Can we require that?

Yes, if your lease or rules already allow this provision. You can adopt a policy or rules to implement such a procedure. However, keep in mind that not all tenants have internet access or the ability to do online banking. Reasonable accommodations should be made for these tenants, such as an easily accessible drop box. 

My tenant did not pay the rent. Can I still file an unlawful detainer?

Yes. The Arlington County Board has requested that landlords take voluntary steps to minimize financial hardship for tenants who are unable to pay rent during this time. However, landlords are not prohibited from filing an unlawful detainer. 

Is there financial help for tenants who can’t pay rent or utilities? 

Arlington County’s Department of Human Services provides information for residents for help with rent, mortgage, utilities, medical or clothing expenses. 

I already filed an unlawful detainer against my tenant for violating the lease and causing a threat to other tenants’ health and safety. What happens now?

If you have a significant health and safety violation, contact an attorney or Arlington General District Court to determine if there are any special procedures to address health and safety violations by a tenant. 

I have a tenant who was diagnosed with COVID-19.  Do I need to disclose this to other tenants? 

An active COVID-19 diagnosis is not a required disclosure. There are also privacy issues that would likely prohibit such disclosure. Encourage your tenants and staff to take individual precautions such as social distancing from neighbors and frequent cleaning and handwashing. Other hygiene practices can be referenced at Arlington’s COVID-19 page or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention page. 

What are my responsibilities for cleaning and disinfecting a tenant’s unit if they test positive for COVID-19? 

A tenant is responsible for cleaning and disinfecting their own unit, although the landlord may be responsible for cleaning and sanitizing the property for a future tenant. Additional guidance is available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

My tenant’s lease is up for renewal and they already gave notice to move out. Now, they are refusing to leave. What do I do?

The terms of your lease with the tenant still govern everyone’s rights, obligations, and potential remedies during this national emergency. A tenant who does not vacate may be subject to legal action, but whether a particular landlord is willing to pursue those remedies is ultimately up to that landlord.  

I am trying to schedule an in-person showing of a rental property, but the current tenant refuses to allow it. What should I do?

Under the lease, you may have the authority to bring prospective tenants through the unit. However, consider options like a video walk-through of the property or showing another unit. 

I need to make repairs and routine maintenance on my rentals, but my vendors are backing out and tenants don’t want people into their apartments. What should I do?

If you do not have your own maintenance staff, reach out to your third-party vendors to find out what their plans are in the coming weeks. Talk to your vendors about their health and safety protocols so you can share it with your tenants. If necessary, work with tenants as much as possible to postpone routine scheduled maintenance or stabilize repairs as needed.

Where can I find additional information? 

Information   Purpose  
Stay Home Virginia  Resources available in the state. 
Virginia Association of Realtors  Useful information for landlords and property managers. 
Families First Coronavirus Response Act  Provides guidance and assistance for emergency family and medical leave, emergency paid sick leave, and emergency unemployment. 
2-1-1  Virginia serves as the statewide clearinghouse for community resources, including rental assistance.  Dial 7-1-1 for Virginia Relay or 1-800-230-6977 for TTY/hearing impaired calls