All posts by Graham Stolle

How to Evict a Tenant in a Residential Lease

Evict a Tenant

How to Evict a Tenant in a Residential Lease

It is an unfortunate situation when a landlord must try to evict a tenant. Typically, there has been an ongoing relationship, which has fallen apart. It is very easy to become upset particularly when the tenant is or has damaged the property or they are not paying rent. There are several reasons why a Landlord may evict a tenant. The most common reasons for a landlord to evict a tenant is because the tenant has not paid rent, in some cases for several months. As the landlord you must comply with all statutory requirements and any requirements of the lease.

Types of Leases

A major factor when you attempt to evict a tenant is the type of lease agreement. In Virginia, there are two types of Residential Leases, Chapter 13 leases, also known as “Common Law” Leases, and Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act (VRLTA) leases. Chapter 13 leases are provide for more flexibility between the landlord and tenant when creating procedures for default. VRLTA leases provide more structure in the process when a tenant is in default.

Procedure to Evict a Tenant Under VRLTA

DEFAULT – First, the tenant must be in default. Default occurs when the Tenant is not complying with the lease. Default can occur from the tenant not paying rent, monetary default, or the tenant is breaking a provision of the lease, including: too many residents staying on the premises, not properly caring for the premises, illegal activity, etc.

NOTICE FOR NONPAYMENT – Second, you must provide the tenant with notice of default. If the tenant is in default because of a failure to pay rent, then you must provide the Tenant with a 5-Day pay or quit notice. Once the tenant receives this notice they have 5 days to pay all rent owed including penalties or they lose their right to possess the property.

NOTICE FOR LEASE VIOLATION – If the tenant has failed to comply with a provision of the lease other than nonpayment of rent then the Landlord must provide the tenant with a 21/30 Notice. Once the tenant receives notice, they have 21 days to remedy the default. If they do not remedy within 21 days they will lose their right to possession after 30 days from notice.

UNLAWFUL DETAINER – If the tenant refuses to vacate after being provided with notice of default and refuses to remedy the default then the Landlord must file an Unlawful Detainer in the jurisdiction in which the premises is located.

No “Self-Help”

Regardless of the circumstances of the default, a Landlord is not allowed to forcibly evict a tenant. This includes creating a situation, which would force the tenant to vacate, for example turning of electricity, water, heat, etc.


If you need to evict a tenant for default Contact Our Office for a consultation.