Being a landlord in the State of Virginia can be a good source of additional income. After all, it’s a beautiful state and its population is continuously growing. It’s currently home to over 8.6 million people, which means that it offers a lot of opportunities for rental property owners.
While being a Virginia residential landlord can be profitable, it’s not without its challenges, including having to deal with a bad tenant. In fact, there are times when tenant-related issues become serious enough to warrant an eviction. When your tenant poses a risk to your rental unit and your investment as a whole, it’s important to know the legal eviction process in Virginia.
Ideally, a landlord should screen a tenant extensively to ensure that only those who are highly qualified are accepted to stay in their properties. Landlords should find a tenant who pays their rent on time, takes care of the rental, and abides by the terms and conditions of the written lease or rental agreement.
However, even with a thorough tenant screening process, it’s still possible to encounter a bad tenant. In case this happens, tenant eviction may be your last option.
The timeframe for evicting a tenant varies per state. The process can take around two to four months, depending on the reason for the eviction. This can even take longer if the tenant requests a jury trial.
If you’d like to learn about the legal eviction process in Virginia, keep on reading!
Illegal Virginia Eviction Process
You have certain duties under landlord-tenant laws in the state. There are also certain procedures a landlord must comply with when evicting a tenant. The following are considered illegal evictions in Virginia:
- Trying to forcibly remove the tenant by changing the locks, shutting off utilities, or removing tenants’ belongings.
- Evicting a tenant for retaliatory reasons or in response to a tenant who is exercising a legally protected right.
Sending Eviction Notice for Lease Termination
A landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without a cause. Virginia landlords may only evict a tenant for any of the following reasons for it to be considered legal in the state of Virginia:
Failing to Pay Rent
If a tenant fails to pay rent in a timely manner, a landlord can evict them. Rent is considered past due the day immediately after its due date. A landlord is required to provide 5 days’ notice to pay rent or vacate the rental unit before they can proceed with the eviction.
Staying with no Lease or After the Lease Ends
If a Virginia tenant remains at the property without a lease or after the lease term ends, the landlord can file for eviction.
Landlords should first provide 30 days’ notice to move out for tenants who pay on a monthly basis. An eviction lawsuit can be filed after the notice expires and the tenants refuses to move out.
Violating the Provisions in the Lease or Rental Agreement
A landlord can evict a tenant who violates or fail to uphold their responsibilities under the lease agreement. The landlord should give a tenant 30 days’ notice to quit/ correct the violation or vacate the property. For incurable violations, a 30-day notice to move is required.
- Examples of curable rental agreement or lease violations include :
- Letting the garbage pile up inside the property
- Failure to maintain a certain level of cleanliness
- Failure to report visible signs of moisture in the premises
Examples of incurable violations include:
- Deliberately damaging the rental unit
- Making any unapproved alterations to the rental premises
Performing Illegal Activities
A landlord can also evict a tenant who engages in illegal activities. If this is the ground for eviction, the landlord is no longer required to give prior written notice—an eviction case may be filed at the court immediately.
Once you’ve identified the reason for eviction and established which written notice to send, the landlord must deliver it either in person or via first-class mail. Additionally, a landlord may also ask a sheriff to deliver the eviction notice on their behalf for a service fee of $12 or less.
Attending a Court Hearing in Virginia
The eviction hearing must be set within 21 to 30 days after filing the summons and complaint with the regular district court. It’s important to note that in the event that either the landlord or tenant requires a jury, this may take longer.
If the tenant does not appear at the hearing, the court will typically rule in favor of the landlord by default. From there a writ of possession will be issued and the eviction will proceed.
Writ of Eviction
The writ of eviction is the tenant’s final notice to leave the premises. When the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the landlord should request a writ of eviction. This must be issued within 10 days after the date of judgment.
Keep in mind that if the landlord fails to request a writ of eviction within 180 days, the landlord will have to go through the Virginia eviction procedure again.
Evictions in Virginia
The sheriff or constable must deliver the court-issued writ of eviction to the tenant within 15 to 30 days of receiving it. The sheriff may also post the writ on the property if the tenant can’t be found. The tenant will then have to move out of the property within 72 hours or they will be forcibly removed by the sheriff or constable.
Dealing with a problematic tenant is one of the most challenging aspects of being a landlord. You have to stay informed of the legal Virginia eviction process, as well as Virginia landlord-tenant law, security deposit laws, rent increase policies, lease-breaking laws, and more.
If you’re a landlord and don’t want to go through a stressful eviction process or you need help managing your rentals, it’s best to work with a professional property manager to handle the procedure for you. Contact Keyrenter Richmond at (804) 299-5100 and we’ll be happy to help you!
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 regard to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.