We hope you find this blog post helpful.

If you want us to manage your property, click here.

How Do I Evict a Tenant in Virginia?

Being a landlord comes with a unique set of challenges, and one of the most difficult situations to navigate is the eviction of a tenant. In the state of Virginia, understanding the legal process is essential in order to ensure a smooth and lawful eviction. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to take to evict a tenant in Virginia.

Understanding Landlord-Tenant Laws

Before attempting to evict a tenant in Virginia, landlords and property managers need to understand the legal framework surrounding landlord-tenant relationships and fair housing laws in the state. The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act covers the primary guidelines for both parties’ rights and responsibilities in a rental agreement. If you’re a landlord, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the components of the laws covered in this act. This way, you can ensure that you remain compliant with the rules and regulations that govern your state’s eviction process.

Valid Reasons to Evict a Tenant in Virginia

Landlords need to have a valid reason for pursuing eviction, and the most common reasons include failure to pay rent, a violation of the lease agreement, engaging in illegal activity on the property, and non-renewal of the tenant’s lease upon the end of the rental period.

Let’s explore these reasons in a little more detail.

  • Failure to pay rent: Landlords can evict a tenant for failure to pay rent, which is the most common reason for evictions in Virginia. Whether rent is late depends on the stipulations listed in the lease agreement, but generally, rent is late when it remains unpaid five days following its due date. Before a landlord can evict a tenant in Virginia for not paying rent, he or she has to provide a notice to the tenant called the “5-Day Notice to Pay.” This notice informs the renter that they need to either pay the rent within 5 days or face eviction.
  • Violation of lease agreement: Virginia landlords can also evict tenants for violating the terms of their lease. Such violations may include damaging the unit, smoking in non-smoking units, keeping pets in a pet-free unit, or violating safety protocols. In this situation, a landlord must give the tenant a “30-Day Notice to Comply.” According to this notice, the tenant has 21 days to remedy the issue (if possible) and the remaining 9 days to vacate the rental property if they fail to do so. If the violation is not one that can be remedied, the landlord would instead provide the tenant with a 30-day notice to leave the property.
  • Engaging in illegal activity: In some cases, such as a tenant’s engagement in illegal activity on the property, a landlord does not have to provide the tenant with notice before pursuing eviction. Illegal activities may include the creation, sale, or use of controlled substances or violent acts that threaten human health and safety.
  • Non-renewal of lease: Tenants can be evicted from a property if they remain onsite after the rental period ends and they don’t renew their lease (or make arrangements to do so). 

How to Evict a Tenant in Virginia

To evict a tenant in Virginia, landlords have to follow a specific legal process that includes a series of steps. It’s essential that landlords follow the state-mandated guidelines in order to ensure a lawful eviction. Here’s a general outline of the eviction process in Virginia:

Providing Proper Notice

Before filing an eviction lawsuit, landlords in Virginia need to provide the tenant with the appropriate notice. The type of notice required depends on the reason for the eviction, as mentioned above. If you’re a landlord, it’s important to be familiar with the different types of notices, delivery methods, and timelines associated with each in order to maintain legal compliance.

Filing an Unlawful Detainer Complaint

Should the tenant fail to comply with the notice or remedy the issue brought up in the notice, the next step to evict a tenant in Virginia is to file an unlawful detainer complaint through the court system. This step involves preparing all of the necessary documents, such as the complaint, summons, and any supporting evidence you may have, then submitting them to the court within the timeline specified in your case.

Serving the Summons and Complaint

After filing the complaint, it’s then time to serve the summons and complaint to the tenant. The state of Virginia allows landlords to use various methods of service, including personal delivery and certified mail. It’s important to be aware of the legal requirements for each method and maintain accurate records of the service once it takes place.

Attending a Hearing

Once the tenant has been served, a court hearing will be scheduled to review the case in question. For landlords, it’s essential to gather and present all evidence relevant to the case, such as lease agreements, rent payment records, and evidence of any communication that’s taken place with the tenant. Be sure to prepare a strong case and present it effectively during your court hearing.

Obtaining a Writ of Possession

If the court chooses to rule in your favor, the next step you need to take is gaining a writ of possession (or writ of eviction) to regain control of your property. To do so, you must obtain the necessary paperwork from the court, then coordinate with law enforcement to carry out the final steps of the eviction. A copy of this paperwork is also given to the tenant at least 72 hours before the scheduled eviction takes place.

After a judgment has been made, the tenant has 10 days to file an appeal and pay all of the back rent they owe on the property (if the case involves missed rent).

Eviction by Sheriff

In some cases, evictions can be canceled. For example, if the case was only about unpaid rent, tenants may be able to pay all of the rent that they owe before the eviction is complete in order to stay on the property. 

In situations where the eviction proceeds, the sheriff will arrive at the date and time that the eviction is scheduled to assist with the process.

After the Eviction

After evicting a tenant, there are several post-eviction considerations to take care of. These include returning the tenant’s security deposit, handling any abandoned items left in the unit or on the property, and updating the rental listing to find a new tenant.

It’s a challenging and time-consuming task to evict a tenant in Virginia. However, by having a thorough understanding of the eviction process and adhering to the applicable laws and regulations, landlords can navigate this process successfully. If you’re facing eviction proceedings, remember to document all interactions with the tenant, communicate effectively, and always follow the process according to state laws.

Visit Our Blog