As a landlord in Virginia, you will undoubtedly experience a tenant eviction at some point in your career. Common reasons for tenant evictions in Roanoke, Virginia include:
- Failing to pay rent.
- Excessive rental property damage.
- Other violations, such as subletting the rental or altering the unit without your approval.
If you are a landlord looking to evict a tenant in Virginia, there are certain laws and a specific process that you must follow in order to remain legal.
Here’s a basic overview of the Virginia eviction process, from the notice to the court hearing.
Notice for Termination with Cause
To evict tenants from your Roanoke rental property, a landlord must follow procedure as outlined by landlord-tenant laws.
The #1 reason for tenant eviction is nonpayment of rent. In this case, Virginia landlord-tenant laws state that your tenant has five days to rectify their nonpayment of rent once notice has been served.
If they choose to pay the rent, then no further action is needed on your part. However, if after five days your tenant does not pay rent, then you may begin the process of terminating your rental agreement and legally evicting the tenant from your Virginia rental property.
Another common reason for tenant eviction is serious violation of the lease such as a tenant keeping an unauthorized pet in the unit or making alterations to the unit without your permission.
If your tenant violates the lease agreement, you must give a 30 day notice to the tenant which will give them 30 days to correct the lease violation. No further action is required if the tenant corrects the violation they made to the rental agreement.
If the tenant does not fix the violation, the landlord may proceed with the eviction.
Another common reason for tenant eviction in Virginia is due to excessive rental unit damage. If a tenant cannot remedy a violation, then you will send notice which outlines the violation.
The rental agreement will terminate 30 days after you serve the tenant with written notice.
For a criminal or willful act that isn’t curable and jeopardizes health and safety, such as engaging in illegal drug activities, you aren’t required to provide the tenant with any eviction notice. You may terminate the rental agreement and begin the eviction process in Virginia immediately.
Notice for Termination without Cause
As already mentioned, in order to remove a Virginia tenant from your rental unit, you must have a legitimate reason. If you don’t have a legal justification, then you must wait for the existing term to end before expecting the tenant to move out.
For tenants on a month-to-month lease agreement, a landlord must give them a 30-days’ notice.
For tenants on fixed-term lease agreements, you must wait until the current term ends.
Tenant Eviction Defenses in Virginia
Although you may have a legitimate reason for evicting a tenant, the Virginia tenant may still choose to fight their removal. Some of the defenses the tenant may put up against the eviction include:
- You tried to evict them yourself as the landlord. Regardless of the violation, a landlord can’t carry out the eviction themself. Doing things like blocking their access to the rental unit or shutting off utilities is illegal.
- You didn’t follow the right eviction process. Making a procedural mistake might also derail the eviction process in Virginia.
- The tenant remedied the violation. If, for example, the tenant paid all the due rent within five days of receiving written notice, then the landlord must stop further eviction proceedings.
- The eviction was an act of discrimination. Both Virginia tenancy laws and the Fair Housing Laws criminalize all acts of discrimination. The Federal Fair Housing Law makes it illegal for a Virginia residential landlord to discriminate against tenants based on the following 7 protected classes: race, color, disability, familial status, national origin, religion and sex.
- The eviction was a retaliatory act. As a landlord, you cannot evict a tenant for exercising their rights such as their right to join or form a tenants’ union.
To ensure the eviction isn’t derailed by any of those defenses, be sure to follow the due process.
Removal of the Virginia Tenant
If your Virginia tenant does not vacate the unit following the legal termination of the rental agreement, then you will file an eviction, also known as an unlawful detainer, and go to the court hearing. If the tenant still does not vacate the unit, a sheriff will remove them.
Sometimes, tenants leave belongings in the unit after being evicted. If this is the case, the landlord must serve the tenant with a notice to remove their belongings within 24 hours. Then landlord will regain possession. If the tenant does not remove their possessions, they will be considered abandoned.
Under the Virginia landlord and tenant act, there are certain laws and a specific process to follow when attempting to evict a tenant for any given reason.
If you need help getting rid of a troublesome tenant, JMAX Property Management can help. We are a full-service management company serving the residents of Roanoke, Virginia. Contact us today.