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How to Evict a Tenant Who Stops Paying Rent

References: Virginia Code § § 55.1-1245; 55.1-1251; 55.1-1204

Eviction law in Virginia has changed a lot since July 1, 2020, with many temporary protections for tenants, coming and going. Landlords are rightly asking, "what does the law require to evict a tenant who stops paying rent?" The court will deny an eviction if a landlord does not follow the appropriate requirements, potentially costing the landlord weeks or months of time, and thousands of dollars in lost rent and damages. Below is a summary of expired and new laws that apply today.

Virginia’s COVID-19 state of emergency expired July 1, 2021, and with it the following requirements for landlords:

  • Landlords are no longer required to apply for rental assistance on behalf of a tenant or cooperate with a tenant’s application for rental assistance. Even though the requirement is gone the money available for rental assistance is not. It may be in a landlord's best interest to help a tenant get rental assistance.
  • Landlords are no longer required to give written notice to tenants of the availability of rental relief. Just like above, landlords should assess whether they should notify tenants on a case-by-case basis.
  • Courts will no longer grant an automatic 60-day delay for tenants who lost income due to COVID-19.

On August 26, 2021, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) moratorium on evictions ended by order of the United States Supreme Court.

Until July 1, 2022, the following requirements are still in a effect:

  • 14-day notice requirement. Landlords must send written notice to a tenant who stopped paying rent at least 14 days before terminating the lease. The notice must include the total amount due.
  • Payment plan requirement. Landlords who own more than four dwellings must also include a written offer to enter a payment plan with the tenant. The payment plan may only include the total amount due, without late fees or other costs, and it must be payable in equal installments over six months, or the remainder of the lease, whichever is less. Landlords only need to offer a payment plan once during the tenancy.

Other requirements:

  • Right of redemption. Landlords must cease eviction if tenants pay the full amount due, together with any applicable late fees and other costs.
  • Statement of rights. Landlords must provide tenants a statement of rights, a copy of which can be found here.

How well a landlord navigates these requirements will determine whether an eviction is successful or not. Consulting an experienced eviction attorney will make the process smoother and improve the likelihood of success in the courtroom. Call our experienced real estate attorney to discuss your options and find out what steps you need to take to evict a tenant who has stopped paying rent. The sooner you begin the process, the sooner you can stop losing money.