The Virginia real estate market makes a lucrative investment, especially if you plan to invest in rental properties. With Virginia’s growing population, rental property owners can find many opportunities from new residents.
Virginia also prides itself on having a strong economy and plenty of job opportunities, making it an ideal place to live.
To be a successful rental property owner in Virginia, it’s important to choose your tenants wisely. Bad tenants can be a source of unnecessary stress and monetary losses.
Proper tenant screening is essential to avoid problematic renters. Even if you have screened your tenants thoroughly, there are times when problems with tenants arise during the term of the lease.
When these problems can’t be resolved, there’s no other option left for you but to go through with an eviction.
As a landlord in Virginia, it’s important to know the law related to operating a rental property in the state. Understanding the law helps you stay in compliance and avoid any legal issues in the future.
This includes the legal process for evicting tenants. Read on to learn the right procedure for legal eviction, as well as the acceptable grounds for evicting a tenant.
What Is the Eviction Process in the State of Virginia?
In Virginia, the eviction process can take around two to four months, depending on the type of eviction. The eviction process can take longer if the tenant requests a jury trial.
Notice for Lease Termination With Legal Cause
Virginia landlords can only evict tenants if they have legal cause for doing so. Landlords are also required to issue proper notice before ending a tenancy.
The amount of time for the given notice will depend on the legal ground for eviction.
Virginia landlords may evict tenants due to the following grounds:
- Non-payment of rent
- Being a holdover tenant
- Violation of lease terms
- Being involved in illegal activities
In Virginia, rent is considered late the day immediately after its due date, unless otherwise stated in the lease agreement.
Once rent payment hasn’t been received, the landlord can begin the eviction process by serving the tenant with a five-day notice to pay rent or vacate the property.
If the tenant doesn’t pay or leave the premises after five days, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.
Virginia tenants who stay at the property after the lease term ends or without an active lease can be evicted. The landlord must first terminate the lease by serving a notice to move out.
For weekly tenancies, landlords must serve a seven-day notice to move out. For monthly tenancies, a thirty-day notice must be served.
Landlords can also evict tenants who violate the terms of the lease or fail to uphold their responsibilities under the Virginia landlord-tenant law. Some violations are curable and landlords must give a thirty-day notice to fix the issue or move out.
If the violation is incurable, the landlord should give a thirty-day notice to move out. If the tenant refuses to fix the issue or move out, the landlord may proceed with the filing of the eviction lawsuit.
If the tenant is involved in illegal activities, the landlord has the right to evict them immediately without the need to send prior notice. Landlords may file an eviction case right away and the tenant won’t be allowed to fix the issue.
Illegal activities include criminal acts, being involved in illegal drugs, and violent acts that pose a threat to the health or safety of others.
Tenant Eviction Defenses in Virginia
The eviction defense is a reason why you, the petitioner, shouldn’t win the case. The following are considered illegal evictions in Virginia:
Self-help eviction: Forcibly removing a tenant by changing the locks, removing the tenant’s belongings, and/or shutting off utilities. No matter how problematic the tenant is, self-help eviction is considered illegal.
If found guilty, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant the following: Actual damages sustained, statutory damages of $5,000 or four-month’s rent, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
Retaliatory eviction: For instance, the landlord evicting a tenant for complaining against them is considered a retaliatory eviction. If found guilty, the landlord may be required to pay hefty fines and damages.
Attending Court Hearing in Virginia
The eviction hearing is typically set within 21 to 30 days after the complaint is filed in court. If either party requests a jury trial, the process will take longer.
If the tenant chooses not to appear at the hearing, the court may rule in favor of the landlord and the writ of eviction will be issued.
Writ of Eviction
In Virginia, the writ of eviction (or “writ of possession”) serves as the tenant’s final notice to vacate the rental premises and must be requested by the landlord. After the court rules in favor of the landlord, the writ of eviction is issued within ten days.
If the writ of eviction isn’t requested within 180 days, however, the landlord has to begin the eviction process once again.
After receiving the writ of eviction, the writ will be delivered to the tenant by a sheriff or constable within fifteen to thirty days. If the tenant isn’t present on the premises upon the delivery, the sheriff or constable must post the writ of eviction on the rental property.
After the delivery or posting of the writ of eviction, the tenant is given seventy-two hours to vacate the rental premises. If the tenant refuses to move out within the allotted time frame, the sheriff or constable will return to forcibly evict them.
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to know how to process evictions legally to avoid problems down the road. You should know your rights, as well as your tenants’ rights, and always stay in compliance with the law.
If you’re not comfortable processing an eviction on your own, it’s best to work with a reliable property management company such as Keyrenter Alexandria! We know the laws and the right procedures to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible!
Contact us TODAY to get started!
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.