Virginia is one of the most lucrative real estate markets for a landlord in the United States. With a population of over 8.6 million, the Virginia real estate market is a great location for investors. However, owning a rental and being a landlord can be overwhelming, especially if you have to deal with problematic renters.
To avoid bad tenants, owners should have a strict tenant screening process and written lease agreement for their rental unit. Every great landlord knows thorough background checks should be performed to ensure that the tenant is financially able to pay rent in a timely and regular manner.
Whether this is a month to month lease or long term rental period, it's important for a landlord to have set rules for your rental premises to be able to evict a tenant if they cause a lease violation.
When screening tenants, it’s for a landlord important to choose those who will take care of the rental and uphold their duties and responsibilities under the rental agreement. Screening tenants is the best way to avoid a Virginia eviction that could result in a eviction lawsuit in the general district court.
However, there are times when tenants fail in their duties and responsibilities. When this happens, owners will sometimes be left with no other option but to evict the tenant. As a landlord, you should be aware of the proper Virginia eviction process to ensure that you remain in compliance with Virginia landlord-tenant law and avoid any legal problems.
How Long Does an Eviction in Virginia Take?
Evicting a tenant in the state of Virginia can take between two and four months. The length of the eviction process in Virginia varies depending on the type of eviction. Also, this timeframe may take longer if the tenant requests a jury trial.
Written Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause
In Virginia, owners are prohibited from evicting tenants without any legal reason. Here are the legal grounds for evicting a tenant in Virginia:
- Not paying rent.
- End of agreement or no lease agreement.
- Violation of any lease provisions.
- Being involved in any illegal activity.
Owners may evict a tenant if they fail to pay rent on time. In Virginia, rent is considered late the day after its due date. Owners must provide five days’ notice to pay the rent or vacate the premises. After five days since the notice, the landlord can move forward with the eviction process if the tenant remains at the premises without paying the amount due.
If a Virginia tenant remains at the rental with no agremeent or even after the lease has ended, the landlord must terminate the lease by serving a 30-day notice to move out for people on a month-to-month tenancy. After the written notice expires, the landlord can proceed with the eviction if the tenant refuses to vacate the premises.
Renters may also be evicted if they violate any provisions in the rental agreement or if they did not comply with the Virginia Residential Landlord-Tenant Act. If the violation can be fixed and the tenant makes a request to resolce the issue, the landlord should give the tenant a 30-day notice to fix the issue within 21 days.
For violations that cannot be fixed, the landlord must give a 30-day notice to move out. If the tenant does not comply, the landlord can start the eviction process.
Owners can also evict tenants who are involved in illegal activities. Owners are not mandated to serve renters with prior written notice. If the reason for eviction is due to illegal activity, owners may immediately file an eviction case. Illegal activities include committing a criminal or willful act, being involved in illegal drugs, and any acts of violence that affect the health and safety of another individual.
Serving a Tenant with an Eviction Notice in Virginia
Without a cause, procedures for terminating a lease in Virginia depend on the length of the tenancy. If it’s a monthly lease, the Virginia Residential Landlord-Tenant Act requires the landlord to give the tenant a 30-day notice to end their tenancy. If the tenant rents on a weekly basis, landlords must serve a seven-day notice to end the tenancy.
Here are the required notices for the following eviction causes:
- Nonpayment of rent: Five-day notice to pay or vacate the premises.
- No lease/end of lease: Seven-day notice to quit for weekly rent, and a 30-day notice to quit for monthly rent.
- Lease violations: Thirty-day notice to cure or vacate.
- Illegal activity: No notice is required.
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 forcibly remove the tenant by changing locks, shutting off utilities, and/or removing the tenant’s belongings.
- The eviction is retaliatory in nature, in response to a tenant who is exercising a legally protected right against a landlord.
Attending a Court Hearing
In Virginia, the eviction hearing must be held within 21 to 30 days after filing the summons and complaints in the general district court. If the tenant fails to attend the hearing, usually the judge rules in favor of the landlord and a writ of possession is issued. But if either the landlord or the tenant requests a jury trial after the court order, the process will take longer.
Writ of Eviction
The writ of eviction must be requested by the landlord. It is the tenant’s final notice to vacate the rental unit and the landlord regains posession.
Once the court judge rules in favor of the landlord, a writ of eviction will be issued within 10 days. The landlord must request the writ of eviction within 180 days, or else they will begin the eviction process again.
The sheriff or constable must deliver the writ of eviction within 15 to 30 days of receiving the same. The writ must be delivered to the tenant or posted on the rental if the tenant is not in the rental upon delivery.
The tenant will have 72 hours to vacate the rental and allow landlord posession. If the tenant chooses to remain in the premises after 72 hours, the sheriff or constable will return to the rental unit to forcibly remove them.
As a landlord, knowing the legal procedure for evicting a tenant is essential to ensure that you are doing everything in accordance with the law. If you are still in doubt and are not comfortable doing this process on your own, it’s best to work with a professional manager who is knowledgeable about the law.
For help with everything from security deposits to marketing, the management team at Vesta can take care of all of your rental property needs. Contact us today and we’ll be happy to assist 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 management needs.