By signing the lease agreement, tenants agree to abide by all its terms. For example, pay rent on time and care for their rented premises, among other things. But this doesn’t always happen!
Your Virginia tenant could, for whatever reason, choose to do the exact opposite. For instance, refuse to make timely rent payments. And, in such a case, you may be left with no other option but to evict them.
The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act requires that landlords follow a certain process when evicting their tenants. You cannot try to evict your tenant by doing any of the following.
- Remove your tenant’s belongings from the unit
- Lock the tenant out
- Shut down their utilities
The tenant eviction process in Virginia takes anywhere between 2 to 4 months depending on the type of eviction you choose to file. Also, it can take much more time if the tenant chooses to have a jury trial.
The following is the tenant eviction process in the state of Virginia.
Posting the Eviction Notice
The type of eviction notice to post depends on the reason for the eviction. They are as follows.
- 5-Day Notice to Pay. Tenants have an obligation to make timely rent payments. In Virginia, rent becomes due on the 1st day of every month when an agreement isn’t written. It then becomes late on the 5th day.
For tenancies in a written rental agreement, the written agreement will be the point of reference regarding grace periods, due dates, and late fees (if any).
Once rent becomes late and you wish to evict the tenant, you must serve them the 5-Day Notice to Pay. This will give the tenant only 5 days to either pay the due rent or move out. If they choose to ignore the notice, you can continue with the eviction.
- 30-Day Notice to Comply. You can also evict a tenant who fails to uphold their responsibilities under the lease agreement. For violations that can be cured, you must serve the tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Comply. This will give the tenant a maximum of 21 days to cure the violation or else move out within 30 days.
Examples of curable lease violations include rental damage, correctable health/safety violations, and keeping an unauthorized pet.
- 30-Day Notice to Quit. This also applies in regard to lease violations, but in particular, those that cannot be corrected. It gives tenants 30 days to have moved out of the unit lest they get evicted.
If the tenant chooses not to move out within the thirty-day period, you can continue with the eviction process.
- 7/30-Day Notice to Quit. You must use this notice in the event you want to evict a tenant for ‘holding over’. It also applies where there is the absence of a lease between you and the tenant.
Holding over occurs when a tenant refuses to leave after their lease has expired.
The amount of notice to serve depends on the tenancy type. If the tenant pays rent on a weekly basis, then you must serve them a 7-Day Notice to Quit. If the rent is paid on a monthly basis, then you must serve them a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
If the tenant remains on the property after their notice has expired, you may proceed with the eviction. You cannot, however, use their security deposit as collateral for any damage without notifying them.
For tenants who commit illegal activity, landlords aren’t required to serve them any advance written notice. In Virginia, illegal activity includes illegal drug activity, criminal activity, and violent acts that affect the safety or health of other residents.
Filing a Complaint in the Appropriate Circuit or District Court
If the tenant doesn’t respond to the eviction notice, you can seek legal redress in a relevant court. The fees for filing depend on the county where your property is located.
A sheriff or a professional process server must serve the tenant at least 10 days prior to the hearing. The service must be done in any of the following four ways.
- Giving a copy of the summons and complaint to the tenant in person
- Leaving a copy with a member of the household who’s at least 16 years old
- Posting a copy at a conspicuous area at the property AND mailing a copy to the tenant
- By publication, if an order is made by a court
Attending the Hearing
After serving the tenant with a copy of the summons and complaint, the hearing must occur within 30 days. However, the process may take even more time if either party requests a jury trial.
If the tenant fails to show up for the hearing, the court may issue a default judgment in your favor. You’ll then need to request a writ of eviction from the court within a period of 180 days. If you request it immediately, the court may issue it within 10 days after a successful judgment.
However, if the tenant chooses to fight the eviction, then a hearing will be held. Both parties will have an opportunity to present their evidence to the court. The following are some defences your tenant may choose to present before the court.
- You tried to remove the tenant without a court order
- You failed to follow the law during the eviction process
- The property was not habitable
- You retaliated against the tenant
- You continued to pursue the eviction even when the tenant remedied the violation
- The eviction was discriminatory based on sex, race, color, religion, disability, nationality, or familial status
Removing the Tenant
The writ of eviction is the tenant’s final notice to leave. A constable or a sheriff must deliver it to the tenant anywhere between 15 to 30 days after it’s issued. Once posted, the tenant will then have a maximum of 72 hours to move out on their own. If they don’t, the sheriff or constable may return and forcibly remove them from the property.
If you still have any questions about the eviction process or property management in general, feel free to reach out to us here at KRS Holdings. With an experienced team by your side, we’ll help your rental property find the success it deserves!
Disclaimer: This content isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice from a qualified attorney. If you have any questions regarding the eviction process in Virginia, KRS Holdings can help. We not only understand the Virginia landlord-tenant laws but can also help manage your Richmond rental property reliably and professionally.