Virginia Eviction Process

Virginia Eviction Process

Last Updated: September 26, 2022 by Elizabeth Souza

Steps of the eviction process in Virginia:

  1. Landlord serves tenant written notice.
  2. Landlord files complaint with court (if unresolved).
  3. Court holds hearing & issues judgment.
  4. Writ of eviction is issued.
  5. Possession of property is returned to landlord.

Evicting a tenant in Virginia can take around two to four months depending on the type of eviction being filed. If tenants request a jury trial, the process can take even longer.

Questions? To chat with a Virginia eviction attorney, click here

Grounds for an Eviction in Virginia

In Virginia, a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without cause. Legal grounds to evict include not paying rent on time, staying after the lease ends, violating lease terms or illegal activity. Even so, proper notice must first be given before ending the tenancy.

Grounds Notice Period Curable?
Nonpayment of Rent 5 Days Maybe
End of / No Lease 30 Days No
Lease Violation 30 Days Maybe
Illegal Activity None No

Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent

In Virginia, a landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. To do so, they must first give 5 days’  notice to pay rent or vacate the premises. If the tenant does neither after that time, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

Unless the lease states otherwise, rent is due at the beginning of each pay period and is considered late in Virginia the day immediately after its due date. So for example, if rent is due on the first of the month, it is considered late starting on the second of the month (if not paid in full). There is no right to a legal grace period (i.e., five days); however, weekends and legal holidays are excluded.

Once rent is considered late, the landlord can begin the eviction process by serving the tenant with proper notice.

Eviction for No Lease or End of Lease

In Virginia, a landlord can evict a tenant without a lease or with a lease that has ended (known as a “holdover tenant” or “tenant at will”). To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving proper notice to move out (30 days for tenants that pay month-to-month).

Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

Eviction for Violation of Lease or Responsibilities

In Virginia, a landlord can evict a tenant for violating the terms of their lease or not upholding their responsibilities under Virginia landlord-tenant law. Some violations allow the tenant to fix (“cure”) the issue to avoid removal and other violations do not allow the tenant to fix the issue (“incurable”) and must vacate by the end of the notice period.

If the violation is curable the landlord can give a 30 days’ notice to fix the issue within 21 days or move out before proceeding with an eviction and if the violation is incurable the landlord may give 30 days’ notice to move out.

Tenant responsibilities include:

  • Complying with all building and housing codes that materially affect health and safety.
  • Keeping the premises clean and safe.
  • Removing all ash, garbage, rubbish and other waste in a clean and safe manner.
  • Keeping all plumbing clean.
  • Using all utilities and facilities in a reasonable manner.
  • Not deliberately or negligently destroying, defacing, damaging, impairing or removing any part of the premises.
  • Not removing or tampering with any smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector that was installed by the landlord.
  • Not removing any working batteries in a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector.
  • Not disturbing painted surfaces or making alterations in the dwelling unit without prior written approval from the landlord.
  • Keeping the dwelling unit free from insects and pests and notifying the landlord promptly of any signs of pests.
  • Paying for treatment or extermination for insects or pests due to the tenants delay in reporting the issue to the landlord.
  • Preventing any animal in possession of the tenant from causing injury to the premises.
  • Using reasonable efforts to maintain the dwelling unit to prevent moisture and the growth of mold.
  • Promptly notifying the landlord of any moisture accumulation or any visible evidence of mold.
  • Abiding by all reasonable rules and regulations imposed by the landlord.

Curable Violations

If the violation is remediable, the landlord can provide the tenant with a 30 days’ notice to correct the issue or vacate. The tenant will have 21 days to fix the violation, if the violation is not corrected within 21 days the tenant will need to move out at the end of the 30-day notice period.

Examples of curable violations include:

  • Allowing garbage to pile up on the premises.
  • Not reporting visible signs of moisture in the dwelling unit.
  • Not maintaining a certain level of cleanliness.

If the tenant commits the same violation, the landlord may serve a 30 days’ notice to vacate. The tenant does not have the opportunity to fix the violation and must move out.

Incurable Violations

If the violation is not remediable, the landlord can provide the tenant with a 30 days’ notice to vacate. The tenant isn’t given the opportunity to fix the issue and remain at the property. For incurable violations, a tenant must vacate the premises at the end of the 30-day notice period.

Examples of incurable violations include:

  • Willfully causing damage to the dwelling unit.
  • Intentionally removing parts of the premises.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period, the landlord can begin the eviction process.

Eviction for Illegal Activity

In Virginia, a landlord can evict a tenant if they commit an illegal activity.  Landlords are not required to give tenants prior notice and landlords may immediately file an eviction action with the court. The tenant does not have the option to fix the issue to avoid eviction.

Illegal activity includes:

  • Criminal activity.
  • Illegal drug activity.
  • Violent acts that affect the health or safety of others.
warning

Illegal Evictions in Virginia

In Virginia, any of the below is illegal.

“Self-Help” Evictions

No matter the situation, a landlord is not allowed to forcibly remove a tenant by:

  • Changing the locks.
  • Shutting off utilities.
  • Removing tenant belongings.

If found liable, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant actual damages sustained, statutory damages of $5,000 or 4-month’s rent, whichever is greater, plus reasonable attorneys’ fees. A tenant can only be legally removed with a court order obtained through the formal eviction process.

Retaliatory Evictions

It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in response to exercising a legally protected right. These rights include:

  • Complaining about a building or housing code violation to the landlord or any authority tasked to enforce the law.
  • Filing a complaint to a government authority.
  • Joining a tenant’s union or organization.
  • Testifying in court against the landlord.

If found liable, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant actual damages sustained.

Eviction notice posted on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 1: Landlord Serves Notice to Tenant

A landlord can begin the eviction process in Virginia by serving the tenant with written notice. The notice must be delivered by one of the following methods:

  • Delivering it to the tenant in person; or
  • Mailing the notice to the tenant via first class mail.

If the lease agreement provides, the landlord may send the tenant an electronic notice. It is important to note that the tenant has the right to request any notice in paper form. Additionally, Sheriff’s may deliver notice on behalf on the landlord for a service fee of $12 or less.

It is important for a landlord to always maintain a copy of the signed and served notice as proof of proper service of notice. 

5-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit

If a tenant is late on paying rent (full or partial) in Virginia, the landlord can serve them a 5-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. This notice gives the tenant 5 calendar days to pay the entire remaining balance or vacate the premises.

30-Day Notice to Quit

For a tenant with no lease or a month-to-month lease in Virginia, the landlord must serve them a 30-Day Notice to Quit to end the tenancy. This eviction notice allows the tenant 30 calendar days to move out.

For tenants that don’t pay monthly, the amount of notice differs:

Rent Payment Frequency Notice Amount
Week-to-Week 7 Days
Month-to-Month 30 Days

30-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate

In Virgina, if a tenant commits a minor violation of the terms of their lease or legal responsibilities as a tenant, the landlord can serve them a 30-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate. This eviction notice gives the tenant 21 calendar days to fix the issue or move out.

30-Day Notice to Quit

In Virgina, if a tenant commits a violation that is irremediable or a subsequent violation, the landlord can serve them a 30-Day Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant 30 calendar days to move out without the option to fix the issue.

Questions? To chat with a Virginia eviction attorney, click here

Eviction Complaint Filed on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 2: Landlord Files Complaint with Court

As the next step in the eviction process, Virginia landlords must file a complaint in the appropriate circuit or District Court. In the Arlington Circuit Court, this costs $151 in filing fees.

The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant by a sheriff, professional process server, or anyone over the age of 18 not part of the case, at least 10 days prior to the hearing.

The summons and complaint may be served via one of the following methods:

  1. Giving a copy to the tenant in person;
  2. Leaving a copy with the tenant’s family member who is 16 years or older;
  3. By posting a copy at the rental unit AND mailing a copy to the tenant; or
  4. By publication (court-order only).

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com10 days. The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant at least 10 days prior to the hearing.

Eviction Court Hearing on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 3: Court Holds Hearing & Issues Judgment

The eviction hearing must be set no later than 21-30 days after the summons and complaint are filed with the court.

However, if either the landlord or tenant requests a jury trial, this will add more time to the process.

If the tenant fails to appear for the hearing, the judicial officer may rule in favor of the landlord.

If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, a writ of eviction will be issued and the eviction process will proceed.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com 21-30 days. The hearing must be held no later than 21 to 30 days after the summons and complaint are filed with the court.

Eviction Writ of Eviction on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 4: Writ of Eviction Is Issued

The writ of eviction is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit, and must be requested by the landlord.

It may be issued as soon as 10 days after the date the judgment was entered in favor of the landlord; but if the writ of eviction is not requested within 180 days, the landlord will need to begin the eviction process all over again.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com 10 days. The writ of eviction can be issued 10 days after the date the court rules in the landlord’s favor; but it must be requested within 180 days at the very latest.

Eviction property possession returned on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 5: Possession of Property is Returned

Within 15-30 days of receiving the writ of eviction, the sheriff or constable must deliver the writ to the tenant or post the writ on the rental property if the tenant cannot be found.

Once the writ has been delivered or posted, the tenant will then have 72 hours to move out of the rental unit before the sheriff or constable returns to forcibly evict them.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com18-33 days. The sheriff must deliver the writ within 15-30 days of receiving it, and tenants will have 72 hours once the writ of eviction has been delivered/posted to move out of the rental unit.

Virginia Eviction Process Timeline

In Virginia, an eviction can be completed in 2 to 4 months but can take longer depending on the reason for eviction, whether the eviction is contested, which days courts are (or aren’t) in session and other various possible delays.

Below are the parts of the Virginia eviction process outside the control of landlords for cases that go uncontested.

Step Estimated Time
Initial Notice Period 5-30 Calendar Days
Court Issuing/Serving Summons 10 Business Days
Court Ruling 21-30 Business Days
Issuance of Writ of Eviction 10 Business Days
Serving Writ of Eviction 15-30 Calendar Days
Final Notice Period 72 Hours
Questions? To chat with a Virginia eviction attorney, click here

Flowchart of Virginia Eviction Process

Virginia Eviction Process Flowchart on iPropertyManagement.com

For additional questions about the eviction process in Virginia, please refer to the official state legislation, VA Code §§ 55.1-1200 through 55.1-1262, §§8.01-124 through 8.01-130, §8.01-293, §8.01-296, §8.01-470, and §8.01-471, for more information.

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