A Guide to the Eviction Process in Virginia
The Virginia landlord-tenant law allows landlords to evict a tenant for violating the terms of the agreement. Common grounds for tenant eviction include nonpayment of rent and excessive property damage.
As a Virginia residential landlord, you must follow the proper Virginia eviction process for the exercise to be successful. It would be illegal for you to evict a tenant due to retaliatory or discriminatory reasons. Self-help eviction actions, such as removing your tenant’s personal belongings from the rental unit, are also illegal and can land you in legal trouble with your tenant.
A Guide to the Virginia Evictions
The landlord must have a legal reason to evict their Virginia tenant, such as a violation of the rental agreement refusal to pay rent. Once you do, you must follow the step-by-step guide to remove them from your rental. The following is everything you need to know to carry out a successful tenant eviction process.
Serve the Tenant With a Written Notice
This is what starts an eviction process in the state of Virginia. For proof of proper service of notice, make sure to maintain a copy of the signed and served notice of eviction.
- 5-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. This will give them 5 calendar days to either pay the entire remaining balance or move out of the premises.
- 30-Day Notice to Quit. This will give them a maximum of 30 days to pack up and leave or else risk being evicted. For tenants on a week-to-week lease, you’d need to serve them a 7-Day notice.
- 30-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate. This applies to tenants who have violated the terms of their rental agreement. The violation must be minor, however, such as violating the smoking or pet policy. The notice will give them 21 calendar days to either rectify their misdeed or else risk being evicted.
- 30-Day Notice to Quit. For serious lease violations, you must serve the tenant a 30-Day Notice to Quit if you wish to evict them. This will give them 30 calendar days to move out of the rental unit without having the option to fix the violation. Examples of serious lease violations include subsequent violations or irremediable violations.
Serving a Tenant With an Eviction Notice in Virginia
According to the landlord-tenant act, Virginia landlords must deliver the eviction notice in any of the following methods.
- By delivering the notice to the tenant in person
- By mailing it to the tenant via first-class mail
- Sending it to the tenant through electronic means, if the lease agreement permits it
- Through the help of a sheriff. Please note that this may attract a service fee. The fee, however, must be $12 or less
- Filing a Summons & Complaint in Court
If a tenant fails to correct a violation or leaves after the landlord has served them with a written eviction notice, the landlord can go ahead and serve them a summons and complaint. You must do this in an appropriate circuit or District Court. This process should cost you an average of $150 depending on the county where you do the filing.
The service must be done by a process server, or anyone aged above 18 years and not part of the case. For the service to be successful, it must be done in either one of the following ways.
- Serving a copy to the tenant in person.
- Leaving a copy with a resident aged at least 16 years.
- Posting a copy at the rental premises AND mailing another copy to the tenant’s mailing address.
Court Hearing and Judgment
According to the Virginia eviction process, once the landlord has successfully filed the summons and complaint in court, the eviction hearing must take place no later than 21-30 days thereafter.
However, if either party requests a jury trial, the process will take more time.
If the tenant shows up for the hearing, the judge will hear both parties’ submissions and make a ruling. Tenants may put up a fight against their eviction by alleging the following:
- They didn’t commit the lease agreement violation as alleged, such as nonpayment of rent
- The eviction is retaliatory or discriminatory
- The tenant corrected their lease violation (for correctable violations)
- The prior written notice contained substantial errors
- The landlord tried to ‘self-evict’ them by removing their belongings from the unit, locking them out, or by shutting down their utilities
The judge will then analyze the defense and judge accordingly.
If the tenant, however, doesn’t show up for the summons, the judge will most likely rule in the landlord's favor. Subsequently, the court will issue you with a writ of eviction and the legal eviction process will proceed.
Writ of Eviction
This is the final notice for a tenant to leave. In Virginia, the landlord must request it for issuance after a successful ruling. You must do this as soon as 10 days after the judgment was rendered in your favor.
If the landlord fails to request it within 180 days, you’d need to start the eviction process all over again.
Within 15 to 30 days of receiving the writ of eviction, the sheriff must deliver it to the tenant. In their absence, the sheriff must post it in a conspicuous place on the property.
Once posted, the tenant will have a maximum of 72 hours to move out of their own or if the tenant remains in the premises, be forcefully kicked out.
Even if the tenant is evicted, if there is no damage or unpaid rent, the landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant.
In Virginia, the tenant eviction process normally takes anywhere between 2 to 4 months to complete. The exact period of eviction depends on a myriad of factors. This includes the reason for the eviction, whether the tenant contests it, and whether the tenant appeals the court’s decision.
If you need expert help in evicting a tenant, Redsail Property Management can help. Redsail Property Management offers complete property management services. We can handle everything from marketing your property and screening tenants to setting the rent, maintaining your property and even evictions.
Our team of experienced property managers will provide you with the highest level of service! Get in touch with us to get started. We service Hamptons Roads landlords and the surrounding areas.
Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws 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.