Outline of Virginia’s Eviction Process
STEP 1 – Notice to Pay (5 days) or Quit (30 days)
- 5-day letter (Pay or Quit Notice) for money-related issues. This notice is used for failure to pay rent. The landlord gives the tenant written notice that rent must be paid within five days of service date or tenant must vacate the premises.
- 30-day letter (Notice to Quit) for contractual issues. This notice applies if the tenant is in violation of the lease/rental agreement. The landlord gives the tenant written notice to vacate the premises within 30 days.
STEP 2 – Pay Before Notice Period Ends
- The tenant can avoid being evicted from their home if they are able to pay the late rent and any late fee before the end of the 5 days is up.
STEP 3 – Summons Unlawful Detainer Requested by Landlord (Va. Code § 8.01-126)
- If the tenant does not comply with the notice, the landlord brings proof of the notice to court to obtain a Summons for Unlawful Detainer, which is a civil claim for eviction. Tenant is supposed to be served at least 10 days before the return
- The court issues a Summons for Unlawful Detainer and assigns a date when the landlord and tenant have an opportunity to appear.
- If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant is granted a 10-day appeal period.
STEP 4 – Pay On Or Before The Court’s Return Date
- On or before the court’s return date, the tenant can still avoid a judgment by exercising the “right to redeem,” which requires paying all owed rent, late fees, court costs, and any attorney’s fees.
STEP 5 – Bring Redemption Tender To Court
- On the return date, the tenant can bring a “redemption tender,” showing a written commitment from a local agency or nonprofit to pay all or part of the owed rent.
- The judge then postpones the case by 10 days to allow the tenant to come back with the full amount
STEP 6 – Return Court Date (And Trial)
- The tenant and landlord both go to court. If the tenant contests the amount owed, then the judge orders a trial.
STEP 7 – Judgment of Possession
- At either the return date – if the tenant admits to owing rent – or at the later trial date, the judge can grant the landlord a judgment for possession, giving the landlord the right to evict the tenant.
- After the 10-day appeal period, the landlord files a Request for Writ of Possession in Unlawful Detainer Proceedings with the clerk of the General District Court. Landlord must request writ of possession/eviction within 180 days.
- The court sends the Writ of Possession for the landlord to the Sheriff’s Office.
- The Sheriff’s Office has 30 days from the court’s signing to execute the document. The Sheriff’s Office contacts the landlord with the scheduled date and time of the eviction.
STEP 9 – Sheriff’s Notice
- The sheriff must give the tenant at least 72 hours advance notice of the eviction, and typically gives 5-7 days, depending on the season.
STEP 10 – Extended Right Of Redemption
- Passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2019, the tenant can now pay everything owed up to 2 business days before the scheduled eviction date. The tenant can use a redemption, redemption tender, or extended redemption only once in any 12-month period.
STEP – 11- Sheriff’s Eviction
- Full Eviction—The tenant’s property, in its entirety, is placed on the nearest public right of way. The landlord must provide a locksmith and enough adults deemed necessary by the Sheriff’s Office to execute the eviction. The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for protecting the interests of both parties. Depending on the circumstances, the Sheriff’s Office may require the landlord to provide a moving truck, boxes and bags, and/or special equipment. In cases of inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances, the Sheriff’s Office reserves the right to postpone the eviction to the next available date.
- 24-Hour Lock Change Eviction—This is the most used eviction because it is far less costly than a Full Eviction. Possession of the dwelling is granted to the landlord within 24 hours after the scheduled eviction date and time. On eviction day, the landlord must provide a locksmith to change all of the locks on exterior entrances to the dwelling. The dwelling becomes a storage facility for the tenant’s property for the next 24 hours. The landlord must grant the tenant reasonable access to remove his or her property during that 24-hour period. The tenant cannot stay in the dwelling overnight. At the end of the 24-hour period, any property left in the dwelling goes into the possession of the landlord who must sell or destroy it. If the tenant remains on the property or returns to the property after the 24-hour period expires, the defendant is trespassing.