Statement of the Virginia Apartment Management Association on Supreme Court Order Suspending Evictions and Access to Courts

by James C. Sherlock

I sought and received from the Virginia Apartment Management Association a statement on Monday’s Virginia’s Supreme Court order IN RE: FIFTH ORDER MODIFYING AND EXTENDING DECLARATION OF JUDICIAL EMERGENCY IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 EMERGENCY.

It took only an hour for Patrick McCloud, the CEO of VAMA, to generate the response quoted below. It is published with his permission.  He could have done the same thing for the Governor or the Supreme Court, had they asked.  Neither did.

Please note this is not a legal brief, but neither was the Governor’s letter.  If asked for a legal brief, the association’s lawyers would inevitably raised the issues that have been discussed on this blog.

The Virginia Apartment Management Association believes the Governor’s request and the Court’s resulting Order placing a moratorium on evictions and denying access to the courts for unlawful detainer actions demonstrates a misguided understanding of how the U.S. Housing Market and the court system works.

Contrary to what groups like the Virginia Poverty Law center want people to believe, truth is very few of the cases on the current court dockets have anything to do with COVID-19. Those cases deal with Jan, Feb, and March non-payment of rent issues.

Further, the moratorium didn’t just stop severely outstanding non-payment of rent cases from moving forward. It also stopped evictions that were filed due to health, life and safety issues.

Evictions related criminal activity were paused. Evictions related to brandishing a fire arm were placed on hold as were evictions related violence on a property.

So in addition to the economic damage the Order is causing by stopping evictions that have nothing to do with COVID, it also deprives responsible property owners and their residents from taking the actions needed to maintain safe and stable housing.

No one likes evictions. No one wants evictions. This is why you see rental housing providers working with residents time and time again throughout this crisis to create payment plans which address the resident’s needs. Housing providers are in the business of providing housing, not taking it away.

This is precisely why, back in 2019, VAMA worked with housing advocates to design and pass Virginia’s Eviction Diversion Pilot Program (Va. Code § 55.1-1260).

In a perfect world evictions would never be needed. However, as unpleasant as evictions are they are a necessary element to providing and maintaining safe and affordable housing in a consumer driven market economy.

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30 responses to “Statement of the Virginia Apartment Management Association on Supreme Court Order Suspending Evictions and Access to Courts

  1. So as I expected, nobody sought their input in advance? Why am I not surprised.

  2. These are arguments as to why the Supreme Court’s order may be unwise or shortsighted. They have nothing to do with the Court’s authority to issue such an order, which has been the subject of prior postings on this blog.

    • The point is that neither the Governor nor the Supreme Court sought views from the landlords association that might have helped them consider better versions of the letter and the Order before each was posted. Perhaps each might have considered excepting evictions for criminal activity, violence and destruction of property from the blanket suspension of eviction orders.

      Or maybe not in the case of the Governor.

  3. I guess one would think the Virginia Apartment Management Association would already have a position and a Press Release and be able to “lead” with something better than “some are bad guys” message.

    Some are.. most are likely not – just poor folks who can’t pay the rent and no, I don’t think the State should make them de-facto providers of “free” housing either.

    Which takes me back to the RPV and how they would regain the Governorship and GA and rescue us from Northam and his merry band of social justice warriors.

    Alas, the RPV is even more incompetent than Northam and company.


    • What, exactly, does the RPV have to do with this fiasco, Larry?

      I don’t believe a Republican Governor – or any other Democratic Governor – would have considered asking the Supreme Court for a Court Order supporting her political objectives that she could not attain by Executive Order. I literally have never heard of such a thing before. Have you?

      And don’t tell me that the letter was only about public safety without reading it again.

      • The impression I get is that Northam and the Dems are considered “leftists” that do not understand how the private economy really works and therefore are taking actions in the name of “social justice” that longer term will actually result in LESS investors willing to buy and rent housing…

        I think that is a legitimate concern but giving the state of the GOP these days.. they’re so devoted to radical right orthodoxy – that they’ve basically abdicated governance to “leftists” – and dong a disservice to all of us.

        Surely you like this line of thought, no?

  4. Twitter just informs that the State Corporation Commission has extended its moratorium on utility disconnections to Aug 31. But that followed public notice and an opportunity for comment from stakeholders. The Supreme Court could have found time for that. PRV couldn’t find its you know what with both hands.

    • Yeah, but if Dominion, or ilk, disconnects your power, they don’t wind up the wires and leave. Once your stuff is on the sidewalk, you’re out. It is certainly sufficiently different to not follow the same method… exactly.

      • I’m talking about COURTS of record following a fair method. That’s not much to ask.

        • Has Northam done anything to weaken or harm the existing courts?

          Hasn’t he just followed the existing legal procedures?

          • Yes, his letter to the Supreme Court damaged the system of jurisprudence in Virginia.

            I searched, but I can find no previous instance of a letter from the Executive to the Supreme Court requesting a judicial order – ever – anywhere.

            Try to imagine any President sending a similar letter to the Supreme Court of the United States. You can’t.

            If Dr. Northam only wanted to stop evictions, he could have followed Florida Gov. DeSantis’ lead and stopped them by executive order.

            That was not all he wanted. He wanted to stop residential unlawful detainer actions in the courts of Virginia until:
            1. a law he favored over current law was in force on July 1; and
            2. as he said in his letter, the state was prepared to administer the pilot program as the law requires him to do. So based on a reasonable timeline for state action, figure on him requesting extensions of the order until about October.

            So he sent his letter. I will not ever understand why the Supreme Court of Virginia did not set it on fire in a special ceremony telecast on C-Span.

  5. The REAL “failure” in Virginia is how a “leftist” Governor and GA has taken over because RPV has gone so far right.. and has been taken over by ideologues.. Jim B, others don’t write about this, they’re so busy going ape-crap over Northam.. but Northam is what you get when RPV blows up.

    • Couldn’t agree more that the RPV is worse than useless. The old “every candidate for herself” Virginia Republican strategy has been overwhelmed by unceasingly negative news coverage. Some of the Republican candidates deserve it, just like some Democrats do, but not all in either case.

      I’m not sure the Republican “party” in Virginia will ever figure out how to weed extremists from their ticket. Neither will the Democrats. The loudest voices in each party’s base won’t let them.

      • You watch. This weekend the Fifth District R’s will oust a very conservative freshman congressman simply for the unforgivable sin of presiding over the wedding of two young people who worked on his campaign. OMG, they were two males! (I’ve known gay conservatives since high school!) Hell, he’d be in the same deep trouble had he merely been there at the wedding and been seen….Weed out extremists? They weed out anybody they suspect is not one! Right afterwards there will be a meeting of the Big Tent Commission….

  6. I am starting to hear the magic words – rent control – in the press. If you want to get a lot less of something, fix its price below its costs.

    • yep…. but what happened to the idea that the free market would supply what the market wanted and as a price the market wanted?

      When the market fails – then govt steps in and taxpayers and property owners get dinged.

      Rent control in NYC? None of the public service workers could afford to live in NYC without rent control, no?

      • Supply rises and falls to meet demand. The “at the price the market wanted” is incorrect. At the price the market will pay is the correct phrase. If costs of providing the good rise above the price the market will pay, no more of the good is provided.

        But enough of this talk of a free market. Rent control is the antithesis of a free market.

        Rent control freezes or lowers the price. Over time a rent freeze is a price reduction. Costs of providing the property continue to rise and the value of repurposing the property rises with it.

        Owners will respond by trying to convert the property to something – condos maybe – that will return their costs plus profit. Tearing it down is an option unless the government intervenes. Government intervention in repurposing is a taking banned by the constitution.

        The government will respond by building more public housing. That has worked so well in the past.

        Sounds fun.

        • re: ” But enough of this talk of a free market. Rent control is the antithesis of a free market.”

          I agree but what happens when the free market does not provide something that there is a need for and without it, people end up homeless or without health care or education for their kids?

          The govt – taxpayers AND property owners end up paying to provide these things that the free market did not provide.

          And HOW the govt does it is always a complaint without any real alternatives on how it should have done it.

          That’s the problem. Did the Virginia Apartment Management Association offer any real alternatives? If their attitude is that “it’s not our responsibility” then surely they know the consequences.

          • Read the statement by the apartment association again. It “worked with housing advocates to design and pass Virginia’s Eviction Diversion Pilot Program (Va. Code § 55.1-1260)”.

  7. > providing and maintaining safe and affordable housing in a consumer driven market economy

    The mistake here is assuming members from either of the two factions of the Statist Party think consumers should be allowed to drive the economy of the Good Ole’ Dominion.

  8. When I lived in New York City years ago, rent control was Manna fromHeaven

  9. When I lived in New York City years ago, rent control was Manna fromHeaven

  10. Why is this title of this post so LONG AND INVOLVED, what is the message delivered here: “Statement of the Virginia Apartment Management Association on Supreme Court Order Suspending Evictions and Access to Courts”?

  11. Interestingly, I’ve heard that Herring at the behest of Northam has gone to Circuit Court to argue the proceedings over the removal of certain Confederate statutes in Richmond needs to be on the record. How can that be reconciled by the state government’s request to close the courts to landlords for certain actions, which seems to have been conducted on a largely ex parte basis? Northam has now become dangerous. He’s beginning to remind of of English King Charles I.

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