What You Need to Know About Eviction in Virginia

If a landlord in Virginia is evicting you due to late or missed rent, they are required to give you 5-days notice before filing an eviction lawsuit.
Written by Andrew Biro
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
background
Per
Virginia's
civil codes regarding eviction, your landlord must give you 5-days' notice before evicting you because of late rent or 30-days' notice before filing an eviction lawsuit due to a breach in the rental agreement, violation of building/housing codes, or engagement in illegal activity.
As the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to spread across the country, tenants are finding it increasingly difficult to come up with the funds necessary to pay their monthly rent. These challenging financial times are putting countless Americans at risk of eviction. Now more than ever, renters need to familiarize themselves with the eviction laws in their state.
When an eviction results in homelessness, it becomes much harder to find or maintain employment and find other housing. That's why
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Virginia eviction 101: the five ways you can be evicted

For a legal eviction in Virginia, landlords must provide tenants with a written eviction notice at least five days before initiating an eviction lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances of the eviction, this notice period may be closer to 30 days.
As far as why you can be evicted, Virginia state law outlines five different reasons why a landlord may legally evict their tenants.
  • Failure to pay rent: If your rent is late or you fail to pay your rent in the first place, your landlord can take steps to have you evicted—you will have five days or 120 hours to either pay your rent or vacate the premises
  • Violation of housing or building codes: If you, your family members, or a guest violate the applicable housing and/or building codes the rental property is subject to, you may be evicted
  • Violation of a federal, state, or local law: In the event you or a member of your household engages in any illegal activity while on the rental property, you may receive an eviction notice from your landlord
  • Two or more minor violations of the rental agreement: If you make two or more minor violations of the rental agreement within a six-month time frame, your landlord may serve you a 30-day notice giving you time to either correct the issues or vacate the premises
  • A severe breach of the rental agreement: Should you breach your rental agreement in such a manner that it materially affects the safety, health, or welfare of other tenants, your landlord can legally move to have you evicted—and they are not required to allow you the opportunity to remedy the violation
If your landlord has no valid reason to evict you but still wants you off the premises, they may do so if you are a month-to-month tenant without a fixed lease. However, they cannot evict you immediately but are required to give you a 30-day notice..
Key Takeaway In Virginia, there are five different ways to evict a tenant during the term of their rental agreement. The notification time frame ranges from 5-30-days depending on the reason. 

A timeline of eviction in Virginia

So—you're entitled to at least five days' notice before your landlord can file an eviction lawsuit, but just how long will that lawsuit actually take? In the unfortunate event that you are served an eviction notice while renting in Virginia, consult the table below for a breakdown of how long you can expect the process to take:
Step
How long it typically takes
What to expect
Written notice from landlord
5 - 30 days
Before your landlord can file an eviction lawsuit, they must first send you a written eviction notice at least 5-days in advance of filing.
Summons and Complaint
10 days before hearing
Once the eviction lawsuit has been filed, a sheriff will serve you a court summons.
Hearing
21 - 30 days
With your landlord acting as plaintiff and you taking the role of defendant, a court will hear the reason for eviction, your defense, and issue a ruling.
Writ of Eviction issued
10 days
If the court decides eviction is plausible, the judge will issue a Writ of Eviction 10 days after your landlord wins the case.
Delivery of Writ of Eviction
15 - 30 days
After law enforcement is given the Writ of Eviction, they have 15 - 30 days to deliver it to you.
Eviction and return of rental unit
72 hours
Once you’ve received the Writ of Eviction, you will have 72 hours to remove yourself and your belongings from the premises.
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An eviction can be an extremely drawn-out, lengthy process in some cases. But if your landlord is determined to see you evicted, you may only have a couple of weeks after the initial notice before the sheriff comes knocking at your door. Knowing the process and your rights will give you a leg up should this ever come to pass.

How to resist eviction in Virginia

Remember, that tenants have rights in Virginia. So if your landlord attempts to evict you, there are several ways for you to challenge it:
  • Speak with your landlord: Though it may not always work, speaking with your landlord is always recommended. If it's a case of late rent, you may be able to reach an agreement with your landlord—one that doesn't involve eviction. If you have a legitimate reason for not being able to come up with the money on time, have a plan to get it paid promptly in the future
  • Point out a mistake in procedure: If you can catch your landlord making a procedural error—such as changing the locks, shutting off utilities, or filing an eviction lawsuit without serving a proper notice—you may be able to get the eviction case dismissed entirely
  • Address the cause of eviction: Oftentimes, the easiest way to resist or stop an eviction is to address whatever the landlord has cited as the reason for eviction. This may require you to borrow money to pay back late rent or fix minor rental agreement violations. Addressing the cause of eviction may not always be possible—in which case you'll need to find another place to live
  • Call out discrimination: Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, landlords are not allowed to deny someone housing or evict someone on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, familial status, or disability. If you suspect—or know for a fact—that your landlord is attempting to evict you because of one or more of these protected identities, you may have a valid defense against the eviction.
By using any of the defenses listed above, it may be possible to resist your landlord’s eviction lawsuit or even sue your landlord outright. If you end up winning the case, you might be awarded court fees and damages—and you’ll still have a home to go back to.

How to save money on Virginia car and renters insurance

Failure to pay rent is one of the most common reasons for eviction in the United States. With low minimum wages combined with ever-increasing rent prices, the inability to make next month's rent is a reality facing many Americans.
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