Virginia eviction money question

11 Replies

So it appears I may have to go through with evicting a tenant in a Norfolk, VA property. I'm guessing that I wouldn't be able to get them out until late December, and it might take a while to get a new tenant in at that time of year. I was in the property a week ago and didn't see any significant reasons to make a deduction from the security deposit. Can I go after the tenant for lost rent from the time they stopped paying until a new tenant is in the property, and if so how does that process work?

First, start marketing the unit IMMEDIATELY. Include your rental criteria in all of your marketing, so you can pre-screen out unqualified tenants. Finding a new, good tenant solves all of your problems. 

During the holidays, I like to offer "1 Month Free" and offer free rent for the 12th month on an 18-month lease, to ensure the renewals don't come up during the holidays again.

 I would check with a local attorney who specializes in Landlord / Tenant Law to see what charges / fees can be included in your judgment. It varies state to state. 

Ian, I had a tenant break a lease and cause extensive damage to a condo in VA Beach a couple years ago. Good news, you can file unlawful detainer paperwork with the general district court without an attorney using standard forms found online - VA doesn't require attorney representation.

After the eviction is backed by the court you can use it to remove your tenants and receive a judgment for unpaid rent. 

I worked with a couple attorneys. I wasn't overly impressed with either and would see if you can work things out using standard forms first to avoid unnecessary costs.

One caveat - if dealing with active duty military you may want an attorney due to strict notification requirements (I.e. Guardian Ad Litem).

You need to send a 5 day pay or quit notice by certified mail. If they don't pay after 5 days then you file unlawful detainer with the general district court in Norfolk. You show up to court and show the judge your pay or quit notice and sometimes they will ask to see a lease and you will want to also complete a military affidavit. After the judge grants possession then you can file the writ to have the sheriff show up so that you can change the locks. Many times the property will be abandoned well before you get to the last step however. Costs $58 to file and then $12 per person. Writ costs about $75 or so I think but you should call court to confirm everything and to get a court date before mailing them the court paperwork.

Thanks @Seth M. How did you go about submitting the paperwork to the court? Do I have to deliver the forms in person to the clerk or is it possible to mail/email/fax?  I've also been generally unimpressed with the attorney I hired to write my lease, there were so many things I had to add in myself and I still found a bunch of things in @Elizabeth Colegrove 's book that I'm hitting myself in the head for now. 

The tenants are not military. I'm pretty familiar with SCRA laws since I've used them personally in the past. 

You can mail them the court paperwork along with a check for $58 + $12 each person and they will want several copies but don't put too many copies unless you include extra postage.

I also usually include "Any and All Occupants" in case they've moved other people in which counts as a person too.

At what point does the tenant no longer owe rent? Does their obligation stop the day they physically move out? Can I sue for lost rent until a new tenant moves in or the original lease end date comes up?

I'll defer to Jassem for the answer regarding having to go to court or mail. His experience seems more in depth than mine. I had an attorney file the forms for me before I realized that's ALL he had to do. 

The judgment for past rent is something you'll have to file and show up to court to complete. Still a standard form though. Regardless of when you file the unlawful detainer the tenants are on the hook financially until you get new tenants or their lease is up. Should be an easy judgment to win (probably by default) but will be hard to collect.

In my case I came to an agreement to receive partial payment of the judgment for satisfaction. 

Thanks. I spoke to the court and mail works for getting the ball rolling. I won't have to make the 10 hour round trip drive until the court date.

Originally posted by @Jassem A. :

You need to send a 5 day pay or quit notice by certified mail. If they don't pay after 5 days then you file unlawful detainer with the general district court in Norfolk. You show up to court and show the judge your pay or quit notice and sometimes they will ask to see a lease and you will want to also complete a military affidavit. After the judge grants possession then you can file the writ to have the sheriff show up so that you can change the locks. Many times the property will be abandoned well before you get to the last step however. Costs $58 to file and then $12 per person. Writ costs about $75 or so I think but you should call court to confirm everything and to get a court date before mailing them the court paperwork.

Need to evict a tenant in Hampton and going off of this information. My daughter lives in the property, with tenant in separate cottage in rear of property. Since I am out of the area, can my serve the pay or proquit with a witness, or should I just have it posted so that I can start the 5 days today.

@Sherry Hancuff

I would have it posted as soon as possible and list her, the tenant and any and all occupants.

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