Virginia eviction notices are used to communicate to tenants that they are in violation of their lease, either through non-payment of rent, a material non-compliance, or illegal activity, and that they must remedy the breach (if possible) or vacate the premises in the amount of time indicated on the form. A notice to quit can also be delivered by either tenant or landlord in a periodic tenancy agreement to terminate the lease with thirty (30) days’ notice. If the tenant receives the notice and doesn’t comply with its terms within the allotted timeframe, the landlord will be able to file a Summons for Unlawful Detainer with the General District Court to have them evicted by court order.
14-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment – A notice served to communicate to a tenant that they have defaulted on their rent payment and have five (5) days to pay or quit the premises.
30-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance – This document is delivered to a tenant who has violated their lease agreement. They will have thirty (30) days to leave the rental property unless the landlord provides them with twenty-one (21) days to remedy the breach.
Immediate Notice to Quit for Illegal Activity – An optional notice to quit used if a landlord wishes to let their tenant know that they’re terminating the rental agreement immediately due to illegal activity.
30-Day Notice to Terminate Month-to-Month Lease – Is used to terminate a month-to-month periodic tenancy by providing either the landlord or the tenant with thirty (30) days’ notice of lease termination.
- Grace Period Written Agreement (§ 55.1-1204(D)): Rent payable as agreed upon by parties.
- Grace Period Oral Agreement (§ 55.1-1204(C)(4)): Five (5) Days
- Non-Payment of Rent (§ 55.1-1245(F)): Fourteen (14) Days
- Lease Non-Compliance (§ 55.1-1245(A)): Thirty (30) Days
- Month-to-Month Tenancy Termination (§ 55.1-1253(A)): Thirty (30) Days
- Illegal Activity (§ 55.1-1245(C)): Immediate
A landlord wishing to evict their tenant must first provide them with sufficient warning and notify them of the reason for the lease termination. In some cases, the tenant will be able to remedy the situation and remain on the premises. Should they fail to comply with the notice, the landlord will be able to file an unlawful detainer suit against the tenant and have them removed by court order.
Step 1 – Notice to Quit
The first step in the eviction process is the service of a notice to quit upon the tenant. The type of notice and the duration of the period will be dependent on the infraction. Most of the time, eviction is caused by the non-payment of rent. In the case where the tenant has conducted criminal activity or otherwise harmful and dangerous acts on the premises, the landlord is not required to provide them with a warning and can immediately terminate the lease. In all other cases, the landlord must serve the notice on the tenant and await their response, providing them with the duration of the notice period to do so.
- 14-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment
- 30-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance
- Immediate Notice to Quit for Illegal Activity
- 30-Day Notice to Terminate Month-to-Month Lease
Step 2 – Summons for Unlawful Detainer
If the tenant has not vacated the premises, delivered unpaid rent, or otherwise remedied a violation within the allotted time, the landlord can file a Summons for Unlawful Detainer (Form DC-421) in the General District Court that has jurisdiction over the rental property. Along with this document, the landlord should provide proof that notice was delivered to the tenant and that the tenant failed to comply with its terms. The court will have the summons served on the tenant indicating that they are required to appear before the court on the return date to answer the civil claim.
Step 3 – Hearing
The initial hearing will be set on a date usually within twenty-one (21) days of the filing of the summons. Both parties will need to appear to plead their case before the court. If the tenant does not appear, or if they appear and admit to all the claims made in the summons, the judge will issue and judgment for possession and the tenant will be required to vacate. If the tenant denies some or all of the allegations made against them, the case will go to trial.
Step 4 – Trial
At the trial, the defendant (tenant) will have to plead their case as to why they should not be evicted from the rental unit. Both parties will need to bring all proof to support their claims. If the court rules in favor of the tenant, they will not be required to vacate. Should the court rule in favor of the landlord, the tenant will be given ten (10) days to appeal by posting an appeal bond. A judgment in the landlord’s favor will enable them to file a DC-469 Request for Writ of Eviction in UDP after the appeal period terminates.
Step 5 – Writ of Eviction
The writ of possession will be sent from the court to the sheriff’s office instructing them to execute the eviction within thirty (30) days of the document’s signing (usually they’ll act within fifteen days). The sheriff’s office will contact the plaintiff to schedule a time for eviction and will serve notice on the tenant giving them at least seventy-two (72) hours’ notice. At any point before the eviction date, the tenant may avoid eviction by paying all rent owed, damages, court costs, attorney fees, late fees, any civil recovery, and sheriff’s fees.
Step 6 – Eviction
The landlord can choose either a 24-Hour Lock Change Eviction or a Full Eviction. The former will have a locksmith change the locks and treat the rental property as a storage facility, holding the tenant’s possessions to be moved out for a period of twenty-four (24) hours. After the period is up, all property remaining on the premises can be sold or destroyed by the landlord. In a full eviction, a locksmith is employed as well but the tenant’s property is removed by the landlord and hired movers. The sheriff’s department will be present to oversee the eviction.
- Summons for Unlawful Detainer (Form DC-421)
- Signing: Judge, Court Clerk, Plaintiff
- DC-469 Request for Writ of Eviction in UDP
- Signing: Judge, Sheriff, Plaintiff