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Displaced Tenants to Get Bigger Payout

Tenant relocation payment increase

Arlington residents getting displaced from their apartments due to redevelopment, renovations or other work will be getting a bigger payout from their landlords starting July 1.

The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved the county’s first increase in tenant relocation payments since 2004.

The change applies only to those living in unfurnished apartments. County staff say that moving costs have increased substantially since 2004, and the hike in relocation payments will help cover those costs.

Households that qualify as Very Low Income under Dept. of Housing and Urban Development guidelines will receive a payment 50 percent higher than the standard payment.

Residents living in furnished apartments also are eligible for relocation assistance, but those rates are lower — there’s ostensibly no furniture to move, after all — and will not change.

“Tenant displacements result in personal hardship for those directly affected and also impact the surrounding neighborhoods and other communities within the County,” notes a county staff report. “The fundamental goal of the County’s relocation policy is to enable displaced tenants to move directly to decent, structurally safe and affordable replacement housing convenient to their place of employment and/or education.”

The payments are voluntarily for owners of by-right developments, but are required if a development is a site plan project or receiving a form of financial assistance from the county.

The press release from Arlington County, after the jump.

The Arlington County Board today approved the first increase since 2004 in relocation payments for tenants who are displaced by housing demolition, substantial rehabilitation or conversion from residential to non-residential use. The increase takes effect July 1.

“Needless to say, this increase was needed. Relocation costs have risen in the 12 years since the Board last raised tenant relocation payments,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said. “These payments help low-and-middle income tenants through the often stressful and financially difficult process of relocation.

The Board voted 5 – 0 to approve the increase. Relocation payments are made by property owners and developers. To read the Staff Report on this item, visit the County website. Scroll down to Item #33 on the April Regular County Board Meeting Agenda.

Providing benefits for displaced residents living in Site Plan redevelopments

The fundamental goal of the Tenant Relocation Guidelines is to allow displaced tenants to move directly to decent, safe and affordable replacement housing. Although the guidelines are voluntary for all by-right development projects, they are mandatory under two circumstances:

  • when the County provides project funding, and/or
  • when property owners and developers seek site plan approval for redevelopment of residential properties

The payments compensate tenants for moving and moving-related costs such as utility connection and temporary storage fees. The guidelines also include relocation services and advance notice of the planned redevelopment, although no other revisions to the guidelines are being made at this time.

Background

The Tenant-Landlord Commission recommended the increase in 2015. Guided by the Tenant-Landlord Commission’s research and discussion in early 2015, County staff researched average moving costs and expenses for the Northern Virginia region and compared Arlington County’s current schedule to the federal Uniform Relocation Act (URA) payment schedule, Alexandria City, and Fairfax County relocation schedules.

To view the complete schedule of relocation payment increases, for tenants whose verified household incomes are above the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Very Low Income Limits for the area (a household of four earning $54,600, or 50% of the Area Median Income), and for tenants whose verified household incomes are below HUD’s Very Low Income Limits, see the Staff Report on the County website.

The Tenant-Landlord Commission chose not to recommend payment increases for households renting furnished apartments. There is no expected fiscal impact to the County, aside from projects seeking County financing from the Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF).

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