A Virginia eviction notice is a written document that is more commonly referred to as a notice to quit. It is produced by the landlord or their agent and informs the tenant that the terms of the lease or the rental agreement have been violated in some way. Under Virginia’s landlord-tenant laws, the tenant is provided with a certain amount of time to correct the problem and / or vacate the property depending on why the eviction notice was issued.
The creation and service of a properly drafted eviction notice is essential to the legal eviction process. The tenant must be legally served and then refuse to comply with the notice before the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against them.
A Virginia eviction notice needs to provide certain information. It should include:
For the purpose of documenting service, you should also create and use a Certificate of Service. This is a secondary document that includes the date of service, the name of the person served, how service took place, and the signature of the person who served the notice.
In Virginia, the legal method of service is a written notice that a tenant sees. Landlords could have the tenant served in person or use certified mail with a return receipt requested to act as proof of service. Landlords should make a copy of their proof of service (be it a return receipt from the mail or a copy of a completed Certificate of Service) for their records.
5-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment of Rent
A 5-day notice to quit for non-payment of rent is authorized by § 55-225. It is used when the tenant doesn’t pay their rent on time. It informs the tenant that they owe past due rent and it gives them 5 days to either pay the rent or vacate the property. It would be helpful for the notice to mention the full amount of rent that is due, which payment methods the tenant may use, and where the tenant may pay.
Notice to Quit for Illegal or Harmful Activity
Virginia landlords have no legal requirement to provide a certain number of days of notice if the tenant is involved in illegal or harmful activity on the rental property according to § 55-248.31(c). This notice is used for criminal, illegal, menacing, or threatening activity. The tenant is not being given the option to correct the issue. They are being told to vacate the property. This notice can be immediate. The landlord may find it helpful to include the explicit reason why the notice was issued.
30-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance
A 30-day notice to quit for non-compliance is given when the tenant doesn’t comply with the terms of the lease or rental agreement according to § 55-248.31. This notice is not used for illegal activity or non-payment of rent. One example for this eviction notice is an unauthorized pet on the premises. This notice should list the reason it is being issued. It gives the tenant 30 days to correct the problem or vacate the rental property.
30-Day Notice to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy
A 30-day notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy is a notice used to set a date that the monthly agreement will end. This isn’t an eviction notice per se. Rather, it can be used by either the landlord or the tenant to tell the other party that the property will return to the possession of the landlord. This notice is governed by § 55-248.37(A).
Eviction notices must be legally served. They must also be issued for a legal reason as discussed above. For the landlord to file an eviction lawsuit, the tenant must refuse to comply. The landlord must receive an order from the court before they can change the locks, remove the tenant’s belongings, or turn off the utilities to the rental. Without a court order, those actions are considered “self-help” eviction; they are illegal.
It is also illegal for the landlord to evict the tenant if they report the landlord or the rental property to the housing authority because of inhabitable conditions or for code violations. This is known as retaliatory eviction. The landlord may not evict a tenant solely based on the tenant’s actual or perceived religion, gender, disability, family status, country of origin, color of their skin, or their race. This is a violation of The Fair Housing Act, a federal law.
If a landlord uses any sort of illegal eviction method, they may be sued by the tenant. The court may order the landlord to pay the tenant financial damages. The landlord may also be fined for violating state or federal law.
If you’re renting or leasing a residential property in Virginia, you have rights and responsibilities. You can learn more about both by checking out this page maintained by the Virginia Housing Development Authority. If you’ve received an eviction notice, read it carefully. This will help you determine why you received it and how long you have to either comply or vacate the property. For illegal acts, criminal acts, threats, and menacing behavior, the landlord is not required to give you a certain amount of time to leave the property. For questions, contact your landlord to discuss what’s happening. Depending on why the notice was issued, the landlord may be willing to work something out with you.
If you haven’t done so already, review the Legal Considerations section above. You’ll learn about several important concepts, including illegal eviction. A landlord-tenant attorney can answer any questions you may have and help you determine if you’ve been victimized by an illegal eviction. For resources, you can contact a law school near you and ask if they have an active legal clinic. They may have resources for tenants facing an eviction. Legal aid may also be beneficial.
If you’re a landlord in Virginia, it’s important that you understand your legal obligations and rights. You must maintain the property in a way that keeps the property safe and habitable. Also, make sure that you properly draft and serve an eviction notice. You cannot file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant until they refuse to comply with a legally served eviction notice. If you haven’t done so already, go back and read our Legal Considerations section to guard yourself against using an illegal eviction method. To learn more about the eviction process, talk with a landlord-tenant attorney in the county where your rental property is located.