Historically, the Commonwealth of Virginia has experienced some of the highest eviction rates in the county, containing five of the top ten U.S. cities with the highest eviction rates. After experiencing scrutiny in the national news due to these rates, the Commonwealth enacted legislation which provided increased tenant protections and distributed the highest percentage of rental assistance funds in the country. It was once thought that the Virginia Rent Relief Program (“RRP”) could be the solution to the eviction crisis, but now that the Program has ended, Virginia is once again experiencing an eviction crisis. Though thousands of households received RRP rental assistance to catch up on rent arrearages and avoid eviction, many tenants are still being forced to search for new housing because their landlords are refusing to renew their leases.
In a difficult housing market, these tenants can face eviction if they do not vacate by the end of their lease term. This practice has a disproportionate impact on minority communities, as most households that received assistance from RRP were households of color. This article evaluates the disparate impact standard in the context of tenant-screening policies and applies the disparate impact standard to the context of lease nonrenewal, arguing that tenants can establish a prima facie case of disparate impact to invalidate this discriminatory nonrenewal practice. However, recognizing the obstacles to initiating disparate impact litigation, this article explores other approaches for tenants, and the legal practitioners who advocate for them, to contend with tenant-screening policies and ease the burdens they may encounter when searching for new housing in the post-RRP era.
Olivia Seksinsky & Madelyn Bellew,
Eviction Crisis Not Averted: Challenging Disparate Impact in the Search for Housing Stability During the Virginia Rent Relief Program's Epilogue,
Rich. Pub. Int. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.richmond.edu/pilr/vol26/iss2/3