Unlawful Detainer Attorneys in Fairfax
Helping Landlords Protect Their Properties
As a landlord, you rent out your property expecting the people living there to abide by specific terms, such as paying rent or refraining from participating in illegal activity. Unfortunately, there are times when the renters fail to uphold their end of the agreement and, to protect your financial investment and property, you might decide to evict them from the premises. However, the process is complicated, and if you fail to follow the terms of your lease and the applicable provisions of the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act in these types of matters, you could have difficulty removing the renters.
At Keithley Law, PLLC our lawyers understand the statutes and regulations concerning property evictions. When you hire our team, we will provide informed legal help as we navigate the complexities of your case. Our attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience practicing the law and have competently handled challenging real estate matters involving lease violations and evictions. We will keep your best interests in mind as we work toward a favorable outcome on your behalf.
Put years of experience on your side by calling us at (703) 454-5147.
What Is the Eviction Process?
Because your residential lease agreement is a contract that outlines expectations of your renters and obligations that you must meet, when a tenant fails to govern themselves accordingly you cannot immediately evict them from the property without following the proper legal procedures. This means that you cannot pursue a “self-help” eviction by changing the locks, turning off utilities (if the lease agreement makes you responsible for them), or removing their belongings because they did not pay rent or failed to comply with rules. If you do so, your renters could take legal action against you.
When attempting to evict renters from your property, you are legally required to do the following:
- Provide notice: If your tenants failed to pay rent, you must give them a notice explaining that they have 5 days to make a payment. If they do so by the deadline, they are legally allowed to stay on the property. If the tenants are not adhering to non-monetary parts of the lease agreement, you must give them notice letting them know that they have 21 days to correct the issue. If they fail to comply, then they have 30 days from the date of the notice to leave the property.
- File for an unlawful detainer: If, after you have given the required notice to your tenants, they still do not comply, you must file a summons for an unlawful detainer. This begins eviction proceedings and means that you are getting the court involved to handle the matter. When submitting your paperwork, you must provide proof that you gave notice to your renters before taking legal action.
- Initial Hearing: Section 8.01-126 of the Code of Virginia of 1950, as amended, explains that an initial hearing in an unlawful detainer matter should occur within 21 days of the filing, if possible, and that the tenant should be served with the summons ten days before the hearing. If the tenant fails to appear at the hearing after being properly served, then a default judgment may be entered against him. If the tenant appears, then the judge will ask him to admit or deny the landlord’s allegations. Upon a denial of some or all of the allegations, the judge will schedule the matter for trial and could order the landlord to file a bill of particulars, elaborating upon his claim for relief, and the tenant to file a grounds of defense, explaining why the landlord is not entitled to the relief requested.
- Appear at trial: If your tenant contests the eviction, the case will be taken to trial. During the proceedings, the judge will hear testimony from witnesses and consider documents as evidence to determine if you have a legal right to have the renters removed from the property and/or to recover financial damages, including unpaid rent. If the case is ruled in your favor, your renter could file an appeal to challenge the decision within ten days.
- Request for writ for eviction: If you win the trial or if the tenant does not dispute the summons, you must file a request for the issuance of a writ of eviction to have the person evicted. The writ gets sent to the Sheriff’s Office, and an officer will, within 15 to 30 days after receiving the writ, carry out the order. Typically, the sheriff will provide notice to both the landlord and the tenant 72 hours before the eviction will take place.
- Remove property/change locks: In some cases, when the eviction is being executed, you can hire a locksmith to go in and change the locks. The tenants then have 24 hours to remove their items from the premises, but they cannot stay on the property overnight. In other cases, you can, again hire a locksmith, but also have the renters’ personal items moved out on the same day. In this situation, you may be required to provide a moving crew of suitable size because the sheriffs will not assist with the process.
Schedule a Consultation with Keithley Law, PLLC Today!
If you are seeking to evict renters who are not complying with their lease agreement, our Fairfax attorneys can help you understand your legal obligations and assist you through the process. The real estate attorneys at Keithley Law, PLLC know the laws concerning these types of matters and are ready to provide the representation you need.