Procedure for Evicting Tenant
For over 30 years, the attorneys at Hale Ball have represented Landlords in both commercial and residential Landlord/Tenant disputes in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The eviction process in Virginia is proscribed by statute, and it is important that Landlords comply with all of the required steps so that they may properly regain possession of their property.
The first step to doing so is to identify the reason the Tenant has defaulted under the lease. If the default is due to failure to pay rent, the Landlord must notify the Tenant by what is referred to as the "Pay or Quit" Notice. This notice must be in writing and must advise the Tenant that it has five (5) days to bring the overdue rent current or vacate the premises. If the overdue rent is received in this five (5) day period, the Tenant has the right to stay in the premises. If the Tenant does not pay, the Court ordered eviction process begins.
If the Tenant is in default due to failure to comply with its obligations under the lease, other than rent, the Landlord must notify the Tenant by what is referred to as the "Notice of Default" or "Notice to Quit". This notice must be in writing and must advise the Tenant that it is in violation of the lease/rental agreement and that it has thirty (30) days to cure the violation or vacate the premises. If the violation is cured within this thirty (30) day period, the Tenant has the right to stay in the premises. If the Tenant does not cure the violation, the Court ordered eviction process begins.
When the requisite notice is not complied with, the Landlord should file a Summons for Unlawful Detainer in the General District Court. The court issues the Summons and assigns a "first return date". At the first return date, the Landlord and Tenant are to appear before the Court to advise whether the Tenant wishes to contest the Summons. If the Tenant does not appear or does not contest the Summons, the Landlord is entitled to possession and judgment for unpaid rent. If the Tenant does appear and contests, the Court will set a trial date for the parties to return and the case to be tried.
If judgment is entered in the landlord's favor, the tenant has a statutory right to appeal within ten (10) days by filing his notice of appeal and posting a bond. If the Tenant successfully perfects his appeal, the case is transferred to the Circuit Court and the evidence is reheard. If the Tenant does not appeal or does not successfully perfect its appeal, the judgment is final.
It is only after the judgment becomes final that the Landlord may forcibly remove the Tenant from the Premises. Therefore, if the Tenant does not leave on its own accord, the Landlord may file a request for Writ of Possession in Unlawful Detainer Proceedings with the clerk of the General District Court. The court then sends the Writ of Possession to the Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office has 30 days from the court's signing to execute the document. The sheriff's deputy assigned to the area contacts the Landlords to schedule the eviction day and the Tenant is given a minimum of 72 hours notice prior to the scheduled eviction.
The eviction process can be lengthy and sometimes difficult as a Landlord. Please feel free to call Robert Baumgartner or Scott Pohlman, 703-591-4900 to discuss this further.
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