STEPS OF THE EVICTION PROCESS:
STEP 1- FIVE DAY NOTICE
When a tenant’s rent is in arrears, the landlord may give the tenant a 5-day notice to pay the amount due or eviction action will be taken. This notice is not prepared by the court, but rather by the landlord or his attorney. It may be served upon the tenant by the Sheriff, or presented to the tenant by the landlord, or mailed to the tenant by the landlord (by registered or certified mail). Make sure you keep a copy of the notice served for your records (with date and time notice was served). Va. Code 8.01-296 and 55-225.
Note: The landlord needs to use a 30-day notice if defendants are current on the rent but desires to breach the lease.
STEP 2- WARRANT IN UNLAWFUL DETAINER
After the 5-day period of notice (or 30 day notice) has expired and the landlord has not received satisfaction, the landlord may obtain a Warrant in Unlawful Detainer from the Civil Office of the General District Court (take your copy of the eviction notice with you to court). The court will issue a summons and set a court date for you and the defendant (s) to appear in court.
This Warrant in Unlawful Detainer is an action taken before judgment by the court, and the summons directs the defendant (tenants) to appear for a hearing. The Warrant in Unlawful Detainer is the legal process to cover any situation in which the possession of the house, land, or tenement is unlawfully detained by the person (s) in the possession thereof. Va. Code 8.01-124; 8.01-126; and 8.01-296
STEP 3- WRIT OF POSSESSION
When judgment has been awarded in favor of the landlord under a Warrant in Unlawful Detainer procedure, the landlord my then obtain a Writ of Possession from the court. This writ is the authority of the Sheriff to remove the tenant (and personal belongings) from the premises, and restore possession of the premises to the landlord. Va. Code 8.01-470
APPEAL FROM UNLAWFUL DETAINER JUDGMENT
The tenant shall have the right to appeal the judgment of the lower court to Circuit Court. The notice of appeal action must be taken by the tenant within 10-days from the date judgment was entered in the lower court.
NOTICE TO TENANT BY SHERIFF
After the court has issued the Writ of Possession at the landlord’s request, the Sheriff must give the tenant written notice. This notice is to notify the tenant as to the date and time of eviction. This Notice to Evict must be served upon the defendant (s) at least 72 hours before the eviction is to take place.
Regarding the Notice to Evict: 3-7 days is usually deemed sufficient time of notice to the defendant, but time period is at the discretion of the Sheriff. In situations where the landlord requests the personal belongings of the tenant to be set out on the public way, and in the event of inclement or extreme weather conditions, or other unforeseen circumstances, the Sheriff my re-set the date and time of the eviction. Va. Code 8.01-470; 55-237.1 and 55-248.38:2
NOTICE TO THE LANDLORD
The Sheriff should coordinate the eviction with the landlord to insure that the landlord will be prepared to remove the tenant (s) belongings from the premises (if this option is chosen). In the event the landlord does not make necessary preparations and fails to comply with reasonable conditions imposed regarding the eviction; the Sheriff may cancel the eviction.
See next page of this page for Va. Code sections regarding the eviction process and the 2 option that are now available for use by the landlord and Sheriff that went in to effect 7/1/01.
OFFICER MAY BREAK AND ENTER
If on the date of the eviction the Sheriff should find the premises locked, he has the authority (under the Writ of Possession) to break and enter the premises in the daytime. This can be done only after prior notice has been given to the tenant to restore possession of the rental property to the landlord. (See prior section on Notice to Defendant)
REMOVEL OF DEFENDANTS PERSONAL BELONGINGS – 2 OPTIONS ARE NOW AVAILABLE
An Act to amend and reenact 8.01-470 of the Code of Virginia and to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 55-237.1 and to amend the Code of Virginia by adding in Article 5 of Chapter 13.2 of Title 55 a section numbered 55-248.38:2, relating to authority of sheriff’s and landlords to store and sell personal property removed from the residential premises.
OPTION # 1 – The sheriff shall cause such personal property of the defendant to be placed into the public way. The tenant shall have the right to remove his personal property from the public way during the 24-hour period after eviction. Upon expiration of the 24-hour period after eviction, the landlord shall remove, or dispose of such personal property remaining in the public way.
OPTION # 2 – At the landlord’s request, the Sheriff shall cause such personal property to be placed into a storage area designated by the landlord, which may be the dwelling unit. The tenant shall have the right to remove his personal property from the landlord’s designated storage area at reasonable time during the 24-hours after eviction from the premises or at such other reasonable times until the landlord has disposed of the property as provided by law. (See next page for entire Va. Code section concerning the eviction process.)
IF THE LANDLORD WANTS THE ASSISTANCE FROM THE ROCKINGHAM COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE, THE LANDLORD OR HIS AGENT MUST NOT ENTER THE DWELLING UNTIL DEPUTY ARRIVES. ENTERING BEFORE THE DEPUTY ARRIVES WILL RESULT IN THE SHERIFF CANCELING THE WRIT AND NO PERFORMANCE OF THE EVICTION. THIS IS DONE TO ENSURE BOTH THE LANDLORD’S SAFETY AND THE SAFETY OF THE DEPUTY, BUT MOREOVER TO LIMIT LIABILITY TO THE SHERIFF BY FALSE ACCUSATIONS MADE BY DISGRUNTLED TENANTS.
THE LANDLORD AND THE SHERIFF SHALL NOT HAVE ANY LIABILITY FOR THE LOSS OF THE DEFENDANT(S) PROPERTY DURING THE 24-HOUR PERIOD AFTER EVICTION.
RIGHTS AFFORDED TO TENANTS