When evicting a tenant in Virginia, a landlord must first terminate the tenancy. In most cases, the landlord will need to provide the tenant with notice before terminating the tenancy and filing an eviction lawsuit against the tenant.
This article will explain how a landlord can evict a tenant in Virginia.
The first step in evicting a tenant is terminating the tenancy. If a landlord wants to evict a tenant before the term of the tenancy has ended, then the landlord must have legal cause. The most common legal causes of eviction are the tenant’s failure to pay rent or violation of the lease or rental agreement. However, the landlord can also evict the tenant for committing an illegal act, such as drug use or possession on the premises. For most of these situations, the landlord will first need to give the tenant notice before terminating the tenancy and filing an eviction lawsuit against the tenant.
A landlord cannot evict a tenant simply because the landlord does not like that person. If the landlord does not have a legal reason for eviction, then the landlord must wait until the term of the tenancy has expired before expecting the tenant to move. Depending on the type of tenancy, the landlord may still need to provide the tenant with notice.
If a landlord wants to end a month-to-month tenancy, the landlord must give the tenant a 30-day notice informing the tenant that the tenancy will end at the end of the 30-day time frame. If the tenant has not moved out of the rental unit by the end of the 30 days, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see Va. Code Ann. § 55-248.37). Virginia Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy has more information.
If the tenant has a fixed-term lease or rental agreement, such as for one year, the landlord must wait until the end of the term before expecting the tenant to move. The landlord does not need to give the tenant notice to move unless the lease specifically requires it.
Even though a landlord may have a valid legal cause to evict a tenant, the tenant may still decide to fight the eviction. The tenant may have a valid defense against the eviction, such as the landlord discriminating against the tenant or the landlord failing to follow proper eviction procedures. By fighting the eviction, the tenant could delay the eviction and remain in the rental unit for longer. Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Virginia has more information.
The only legal way for a landlord to remove a tenant is by winning an eviction lawsuit. Even then, the landlord is not authorized to remove the tenant from the rental unit; only a law enforcement officer can do that. It is illegal for a landlord in Virginia to attempt to force a tenant to move out of a rental unit, and the tenant can sue the landlord for trying. Illegal Eviction Procedures in Virginia has more information on illegal evictions.
After the tenant moves out of the rental unit, the landlord may find the tenant left abandoned property on the premises. The landlord can dispose of the property but only after notifying the tenant. The landlord has two options of notifying the tenant:
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Virginia law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.