Property Management Blog

A Guide to the Eviction Process in Northern Virginia, VA

KRS Holdings - Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Property Management Blog

By signing the written lease agreement, tenants agree to abide by all its terms. For example, pay rent on time and care for their rented premises, among other things. But this doesn’t always happen!

A Virginia tenant could, for whatever reason, choose to do the exact opposite. For instance, refuse to make timely rent payments. And, in such a case, landlords may be left with no other option but to evict them. 

The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act requires that landlords follow a certain legal process when evicting their tenants. A landlord cannot try to evict their tenant by doing any of the following. 

  • Remove the tenant’s belongings from the unit
  • Lock a person out of their rented premises
  • Shut down their utilities

The proper eviction procedure in Virginia takes anywhere between 2 to 4 months. This is depending on the type of eviction lawsuit a landlord chooses to file. Also, it can take much more time if the tenant chooses to have a jury trial. 

The following is the legal eviction process in the state of Virginia.

Posting the Eviction Notices

Under the Virginia eviction laws, you must send a tenant a notice to end the tenancy. The type of eviction notice to post depends on the reason for the eviction. They are as follows. 

  • 5-Day Notice to Pay Rent. Tenants must make timely rent payments. In Virginia, rent becomes due on the 1st day of every month when a lease agreement isn’t written. It then becomes late on the 5th day. 

For tenancies in a written rental agreement, the written agreement will be the point of reference regarding grace periods, due dates, and late fees (if any). 

notice to quit

Once rent becomes late and a landlord wishes to evict the tenant from the property, the landlord must serve them the 5-Day Notice to Pay. This will give the tenant only 5 days to either cover the unpaid rent or move out. If they ignore the written notice and don't pay the due rent, you, as the landlord, can continue with the eviction. 

  • 30-Day Notice to Comply. A Virginia residential landlord can also evict a tenant who fails to uphold their responsibilities under the lease agreement. For violations that can be cured, a landlord must serve the tenant with a 30-day Notice to Comply. This will give the tenant a maximum of 21 days to cure the lease violation or else move out within 30 days. 

Examples of curable lease violations include property damage, correctable health/safety violations, and keeping an unauthorized pet. 

  • 30-Day Notice to Quit. This also applies to lease violations, but in particular, those that cannot be corrected. It gives tenants 30 days to have moved out of the unit lest they get evicted. 

If the tenant chooses not to move out within thirty days, a landlord can continue with the Virginia eviction process. 

  • 7/30-Day Notice to Quit. A landlord must use this eviction notice in the event they want to evict a tenant for ‘holding over’. It also applies where there is the absence of a lease or rental agreement between you, the landlord, and the tenant. 

Holding over occurs when a tenant refuses to leave after their lease has expired. 

The amount of notice to serve for an eviction depends on the tenancy type. If the tenant pays rent every week, then the landlord must serve them a 7-day Notice. If the rent is paid every month, then a landlord must serve them a 30-day Notice. 

written notice of eviction

If the tenant remains in the rental premises after their notice period has expired, a landlord may proceed with the eviction lawsuit. A landlord cannot, however, use their security deposit as collateral for any damage without notifying them.

For tenants who commit illegal activity, Virginia landlords aren’t required to serve them any prior written notice. In Virginia, illegal activity includes illegal drug activity, criminal activity, and violent acts that affect the safety or health of other residents. 

Filing a Complaint in the Appropriate Circuit or District Court

If the tenant doesn’t respond during the notice period, under the Virginia eviction laws, a landlord can seek legal redress in a relevant court. The filing fees depend on the county where your rental property is located. 

A sheriff or a professional process server must serve the tenant at least 10 days before the hearing. The service must be done in any of the following four ways. 

  • Giving a copy of the summons and complaint to the tenant in person 
  • Leaving a copy with a member of the household who’s at least 16 years old
  • Posting a copy in a conspicuous area at the rental unit AND mailing a copy to the tenant
  • By publication, if an order is made by a court

Attending the Hearing

After serving the tenant with a copy of the summons and complaint, the hearing must occur within 30 days. However, the process may take even more time if either party requests a jury trial. 

If the tenant fails to show up for the court hearing, the court may issue a default judgment in your favor. The landlord will then need to request a writ of eviction from the court within 180 days. If you, the landlord, request it immediately, the court may issue it within 10 days after a successful judgment. 

eviction hearing under Virginia eviction law

However, if tenants choose to fight the eviction, then a hearing will be held. Both parties will have an opportunity to present their evidence to the court. The following are some defenses your tenant may choose to present before the court. 

  • The landlord tried to remove the tenant from the property without a court order
  • A landlord failed to follow Virginia law during the eviction process
  • The rental unit was not habitable
  • A landlord retaliated against the tenant
  • The landlord continued to pursue the scheduled eviction in Virginia even when the tenant remedied the violation
  • The Virginia eviction was discriminatory based on sex, race, color, religion, disability, nationality, or familial status

Removing the Tenant from the Property

The writ of eviction is the tenant’s final notice to leave. A constable or a sheriff must deliver it to the tenant anywhere between 15 to 30 days after it’s issued. Once posted, the tenant will then have a maximum of 72 hours to move out on their own. If they don’t, the sheriff or constable may return and forcibly remove them from the property. 

Bottom Line

If you're a landlord and still have any questions about Virginia's eviction laws or property management in general, feel free to reach out to us here at KRS Holdings. With an experienced team by your side, we’ll help your rental unit find the success it deserves! 

Contact our property managers for more information about our services in Richmond and Northern Virginia

Disclaimer: This content isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice from a qualified attorney. If you have any questions regarding the eviction process in Virginia, KRS Holdings can help. We not only understand the Virginia landlord-tenant laws but can also help manage your Richmond rental property reliably and professionally.