UPDATED: February 13, 2020
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The process of evicting a tenant is governed by Virginia law. While changing the locks or disconnecting vital services might seem the most convenient way to get rid of unwanted tenants, doing so is against the law, and Virginia landlords will face possible penalties for such actions. The requirements necessary to evict in Virginia differ somewhat depending on the circumstances surrounding the eviction.
Available Virginia Termination Notices
Eviction typically must begin with the landlord serving some sort of notice to the tenant. The only time notice does not have to be given is when a tenant remains on the property after the expiration of a lease or there is a special agreement where a month-to-month or year-to-year tenancy does not require notice. In all other cases, a landlord must serve notice before proceeding on with the eviction. The particular notice that must be given depends on the circumstances.
If you have a rental agreement without any specific expiration date, the landlord must give one of the following written notices that the tenancy is terminated:
30-Day Notice: In the case of a month-to-month tenancy.
90-Day Notice: In the case of a year-to-year tenancy.
If a tenant violates the rental agreement or lease, you can evict them using one of the following notices:
5-Day Notice: If the tenant fails to pay rent, you must give him or her 5 days to pay or give up possession. (Va. Code Ann. Section 55-225)
21 Days to Remedy: If a tenant violates the lease, the landlord must give him or her 21 days to remedy the violation or the lease is terminated after 30 days. (Va. Code Ann. Section 55-248.31(a))
30-Day Noncompliance Notice: If a tenant violates their lease or legal obligations in a way that is not remediable, a 30-day termination notice should be served. (Va. Code Ann. Section 55-248.31(c))
Immediate Termination: If a tenant performs certain illegal activities, such as possessing drugs, or violates their legal obligations in a way that poses a threat to health or safety, the lease can be immediately terminated. (Va. Code Ann. Section 55-248.31(c))
In Virginia, evictions are handled at the General District Court. Find your local court at the Virginia judicial system website. You may be able to locate forms for initiating eviction proceedings there or at connecting court websites. While filling out legal forms to evict your problem tenant may seem like an easy way to do the trick, remember that events don't always turn out the way you planned. If this happens, you may need to turn to someone for help. If you are unsure of the termination and/or eviction process at any point, you might decide to hire or consult an experienced Virginia landlord or tenant attorney. When doing so, you can consult the list of Questions to Ask your Virginia Evictions Lawyer below to help with your decision.
Self-Help Evictions in Virginia
While simply changing the locks or turning off utilities may seem like the easiest solution to a landlord's tenant problems, self-help evictions are not permissible under Virginia law. (Va. Code Ann. Section 55-225.2). In these cases, tenants can sue for actual damages or the return of the security deposit.
Questions to Ask Your Virginia Evictions Lawyer
- How many evictions cases have you handled?
- How many were successful/unsuccessful?
- How long will the eviction process take?
- For tenants: How long do I have before I MUST move out?
- For landlords: Will I be able to get a judgment for back rent for the amount of time the tenant has been living in the rental property illegally?
- What do you charge?
- For landlords: If I hire you, will I be subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?