Eviction Process

Step 1: 5 or 30 Day Notice

When a tenant's rent is in arrears, the landlord may give the tenant a 5 Day Notice to pay the amount due or risk an eviction. This is the most frequently utilized option. A 30 Day Notice is given to the tenant if there is no money involved and the tenant is being evicted for other reasons. The court does not prepare this notice; it is prepared by the landlord or their representative.

The majority of landlords serve this notice to the tenant either in person or by registered or certified mail. A copy of this letter and how it was delivered should always be kept by the landlord. The landlord may request the Sheriff's Office serve this notice on the tenant in which case this service shall be in accordance with the Rules for Service of Process on a Natural Person (VA Code 8.01-296).

A copy of the notice should be served on all tenants involved, and the Sheriff's return placed on the original copy and mailed to the landlord or his attorney. (VA Code 8.01-296, 55-225) A $12 service fee is required for each person to be served in the form of cash or certified check payable to the Suffolk Sheriffs office.

Step 2: Summons for Unlawful Detainer

After the 5 or 30 day period of notice has expired and the landlord has not received satisfaction, the landlord may obtain a Summons for Unlawful Detainer from the clerk of the court. This document is to inform the tenant that their retention of the property is unlawful. The clerk will issue a Summons for Unlawful Detainer against all persons named in the landlord's affidavit which shall be served on those persons at least 10-days before the court return date.

The Summons for Unlawful Detainer is an action taken before judgment by the court and directs the tenants to appear for a hearing. This process is used to cover any situation in which the possession of any house, land or tenement is unlawfully detained by the person(s) in possession thereof. (VA Code 8.01-124, 8.01-126 and 8.01-296) The judge will make the determination during this hearing as to whether a court ordered eviction is warranted.

Step 3: Writ of Possession

When judgment has been awarded in favor of the landlord under a Summons of Unlawful Detainer, the landlord may then obtain a Writ of Possession from the court. The writ grants the Sheriff the authority to remove the tenant and the tenant's belongings from the premises and allow the landlord to regain possession of the property. If the tenant fails to appear for this hearing the court may grant immediate possession to the landlord (VA CODE 8.01-129) this is referred to as Judgment by Default, however a minimum of 72 hours is still required to pass before the tenant can be lawfully evicted.

Appeal from Unlawful Detainer Judgment

The tenant may appeal the ruling of the court for the unlawful detainer proceeding. For additional information, contact the Clerk of the General District court by phone at 757-514-4822.