Virginia Eviction Laws

Quick Facts for Virginia

  • Grounds for Eviction: Failure to pay rent, lease term violations, committing a criminal act
  • Notice Required for Nonpayment of Rent: 5-Day Notice to Pay
  • Notice Required for Eviction without Cause: None for a tenant at will
  • Notice Required for Lease Violations: 30-Day Notice to Quit or Cure
  • Fastest a Landlord Can Evict for Illegal Acts: 5 days, via Notice to Pay
  • Duration for Tenant to Appeal Eviction Ruling: 10 days

How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant?

As in most states, the eviction process in the state of Virginia may be long and costly. In the state of Virginia there are two basic reasons a landlord may seek the eviction of a tenant who is renting with the benefit of a lease. He/she may seek to evict the tenant for failing to pay rent or for breaking some aspect of the lease or rental agreement. Regardless of the reason the landlord is seeking to reclaim his/her property, the eviction process must begin with the landlord providing the tenant with a written notice. 

The amount of time a landlord is required to provide the tenant to correct the issue or vacate the property will depend upon the reason the eviction is being sought. The notice will generally be either 5 or 30 days. In specific circumstances is a landlord allowed to immediately terminate the rental agreement and proceed with the eviction process. 

Once the notice has expired, the landlord may file a Summons and Complaint with the court. The eviction hearing may also have multiple steps to it. 

Ultimately, the amount of time the eviction process takes will depend heavily upon the reason fir the eviction and the tenant’s willingness to fight the process.  

Reasons for Eviction

The state of Virginia has established a list of reasons why a landlord may legitimately seek to regain control of a rental property from his/her tenant. This includes:

  • Failure to pay rent (V.C.A. 55-255)
  • Violation of the lease which affects the health, safety, or welfare of the tenant or others (V.C.A. 55-255-43)
  • Two or more violations to any aspect of the lease within a six month period of time 

Eviction for Failure to Pay Rent

In the state of Virginia, the landlord must provide his/her tenant with a 5-Day Notice to Pay before proceeding with the eviction process. If the tenant remains on the property past five days, the landlord may use self-help processes to evict the tenant so long as he/she does not incite a breach of the peace in so doing (V.C.A. 55 225)

Eviction if Rent has Been Paid

In the state of Virginia a landlord may seek to evict an “at-will” tenant without cause. 

Evicting a Tenant For Violation of Rental Agreement/Lease

When a tenant violates the terms of the lease, the landlord must provide the tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Cure or Quit if he/she is required to offer the tenant the opportunity to remedy the violation. This notice provides the tenant with 21 days to correct the issue at hand or move from the property by the end of the 30-days provided (V.C.A. 55 225 43). If the tenant has been served with a notice for violation of the terms of the lease previously, the landlord is not required to offer the tenant the opportunity to correct this issue but may provide the tenant with an Unconditional 30-Day Notice to Quit

Evicting a Tenant for Illegal Behavior

In the state of Virginia a landlord is not required to provide a tenant with a notice before proceeding with the eviction process when the tenant has committed a crime that threatens the health or safety of others. This may include illegal drug activity (V.C.A. 55 225).

How Does a Landlord Evict a Tenant When There is no Lease?

If a Virginia landlord is seeking to evict an “at-will” tenant without cause, he/she must wait until the term of the rental agreement has ended if the tenant is renting for a fixed term. Once the agreed upon term has ended, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process without providing any notice. However, it the landlord is renting to an “at-will” tenant without a specified end date, he/she is required to provide the tenant with a written Notice to Quit. In the case of a month-to-month “at-will” tenant a landlord is required to provide 30 days notice before he/she may proceed with the eviction process. 

When Can a Tenant Not Be Evicted?

In the state of Virginia, it is illegal for a landlord to seek to evict a tenant based on his/her age, race, religion, nation or origin, familial status, or disability status.

Once a Notice has Expired

The landlord may file a Summons and Complaint with the general district court of circuit court in the county where the rental property is located. An initial hearing time and date will be scheduled and a copy will be sent to the tenant. If the tenant wishes to fight the eviction, he/she must attend the hearing. At the initial hearing the tenant is asked if he/she agrees with the information in the complaint. If the tenant denies the landlord’s claims a hearing date may be set. The judge will provide both sides with the opportunity to provide evidence.

Once Eviction Occurs

If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant has 10 days within which to file an appeal. If the tenant does not contest the summons, or if the judge rules in favor of the landlord and the tenant fails to appeal, the landlord may seek a Writ of Possession for Unlawful Detainer. The writ allows the sheriff to support the eviction of the tenant. The sheriff’s office has 15-30 days to execute the eviction.

Once an eviction is executed the landlords have the option of using a less expensive “24-Hour Lock Change” eviction. For the first 24 hours, after the landlord has changed the locks, he/she must allow the tenant to remove personal property. If the landlord follows a “full eviction” process, he/she is required to provide enough individuals to remove the tenant’s personal property to the nearest public right of way under the observation of the sheriff. 

Make sure to read the Va. Code Ann. § 55-225 before starting the eviction process. Landlords should make sure to educate themselves on their rights and responsibilities on this topic.

Eviction Process in Other States

Other Resources for Virginia Landlords & Tenants