Pro Bono News
Use the Tenant's Money to Cure the Tenant's Rent Shortfall (VA)
Sunday, June 24, 2018
- Bacon's Rebellion
Use the Tenant's Money to Cure the Tenant's Rent Shortfall
"Recently, Virginia drew national attention for reportedly high eviction rates, especially in central Virginia and Hampton Roads. This has inspired many efforts to address the issue. These include a Campaign to Reduce Evictions, an evictions workgroup at the Virginia Housing Commission, and a possible Eviction Diversion Program in Richmond and elsewhere. These initiatives may result in changes that decrease the number of evictions and benefit both tenants and landlords.
One partial solution requires no change at all: Use the tenant’s money to cure the tenant’s rent shortfall. The Sunday April 8, 2018, New York Times article about evictions reported that the median amount owed in a non-payment of rent eviction in Richmond was $686. By contrast, a Virginia landlord may hold a security deposit of up to two months’ rent. With an average monthly rent in Richmond of $1,269, a typical landlord may hold around $2,000 of the tenant’s money.
And the security deposit is the tenant’s money. It is not the landlord’s money. The landlord is a fiduciary, or a trustee, holding the tenant’s money and using it only for a permissible purpose.
In most cases, the tenant’s security deposit is not an issue until the tenant has moved and been gone for 45 days. During that time, the landlord either must refund the security deposit or provide a written accounting for how the funds were used, or some combination of the two..."