No landlord ever wants to deal with evictions, but it’s always important to be prepared for any scenario. In Virginia, the eviction process is a legal procedure for landlords to take action on tenants who have failed to uphold their end of the rental agreement due to non-payment of rent, violations of the lease agreement, or other reasons.
By being aware of all stages of the eviction process in Virginia, landlords can be sure that they are being protected. We’ll help you understand this aspect of Virginia landlord-tenant law below.
What’s the Eviction Process in Virginia? Here’s a Guide
Understanding the steps involved in an eviction can help all parties understand their rights. This guide will explain the eviction process in Virginia, including the process for eviction, how to serve the notice, and what happens after the eviction is filed.
1. Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause
The initial stage in any eviction is the filing of an eviction notice. This notice is typically a form filled out by the landlord that describes the tenant’s infraction and indicates whether or not the renter can correct the issue.
A Virginia landlord can evict a renter for various reasons. Such reasons include:
Non-Payment of Rent or Failure to Pay Rent
This means that a tenant has not paid their rent on time and the landlord wishes to take action. The process begins with the landlord sending a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit which informs the tenant they must either pay the rent or move out within three days.
Breach of the Lease/Rental Contract
The lease or rental agreement outlines the terms of the lease between a landlord and tenant. These terms can include the cost of rent and due dates, security deposit requirements, and additional restrictions or policies. If the tenant fails to abide by the terms of the lease, the landlord may choose to file for eviction.
Engaging in Criminal Conduct
In Virginia, engaging in criminal activity is grounds for filing an eviction. These activities include: committing a felony, dealing drugs, engaging in illegal gambling, harboring stolen property, or disturbing the peace of other tenants. If a tenant has been found engaging in any of these activities, it is grounds for immediate eviction.
Non-Renewal of Lease at Expiration
A landlord can also file an eviction case against a tenant if the lease is not renewed by the tenant at the end of its term. The landlord must notify the tenant of their intention to file an eviction case at least 30 days prior to the expiration of the lease.
The notification should also contain the date of termination. If the tenant does not vacate the premises at the end of their lease, then the landlord can file an eviction case in court.
2. Serving a Tenant with an Eviction Notice in Virginia
The reason for the termination determines the type of eviction notice utilized. In general, five types of eviction notices are issued in Virginia. They are as follows:
- 5 days’ notice to pay due rent in case of non-payment.
- 21 days’ notice to fix the issue (if curable, including 9 days to evict) in case of contract breach.
- 30 days’ notice to quit in case of non-curable issues or violations.
- 7 days’ notice to quit for weekly tenancy in case of non-renewal of lease.
- 30 days’ notice to quit for monthly tenancy in case of non-renewal of lease.
3. Tenant Eviction Defenses in Virginia
The defense is a reason why you (the petitioner) shouldn’t win the case. A tenant may claim:
- The landlord tried to evict the tenant forcefully through self-help eviction. An example of self-help eviction is shutting off basic utilities or blocking access to the rental property.
- The landlord did not follow the proper eviction process stated by law. For example, not providing the correct amount of time to resolve the issue.
- The landlord gave an eviction notice because of discrimination or the tenant being a victim of domestic abuse.
- The landlord continued the process of eviction even after the tenant fixed the violation.
4. Attending Court Hearing
After a landlord in Virginia has filed an eviction notice, both parties involved will have to appear in court and present their arguments. During the hearing, the tenant can challenge the legitimacy of their eviction and object to it.
Depending on the correctness of the argument, rent arrears situation, and other factors considered by the court, the judge makes a decision and communicates it to both parties. If the landlord is proven to be right about evicting the tenant, then they are expected to order for eviction among other court orders concerning damages or accrued payment.
5. Writ of Restitution
For landlords in Virginia, the process to regain possession of their property after filing an eviction notice begins with obtaining a Writ of Restitution from the court. This document is issued by a judge and requires the tenant to leave the premises by a specific date or face further legal consequences.
To obtain this writ, the landlord must fill out an affidavit then bring it before a General District Court judge. After hearing explanations from both parties, the judge holds the final decision on whether or not to issue a Writ.
The document will also clearly state when the tenant must vacate and will be delivered to both parties in person or by mail. This step is necessary for landlords in Virginia who have had no success resolving their disputes with tenants directly and are seeking repossession through legal means.
6. The Eviction
After receiving the writ of eviction, the sheriff or constable has 15 to 30 days to either deliver the writ to the tenant or post it on the rental property if the tenant cannot be located. If the tenant cannot be located, the sheriff or constable must post the writ.
After the writ has been delivered or posted, the tenant will have three days and one night to vacate the rental property before the sheriff or constable will return to remove them by force.
Dealing with the eviction process can be difficult and complicated. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to seek out professional legal help. The sooner you get started on the eviction process, the better chance you have of a successful outcome.
If you have specific inquiries, you should hire a knowledgeable Virginia attorney. You can also seek assistance from a professional property management company like Keyrenter Chester. We’re here to help you navigate difficult landlord-tenant situations.
Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws frequently change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.