Monday, November 1, 2010

A Rundown of the Eviction Process in Virginia For PROP Proponents

This is for those who are not familiar with landlording in Virginia. It will explain the eviction process and the time it requires to do so.

The case at hand I'm using as an example is one in which there is a tenant in a house that is causing problems for neighborhoods. In the case of a tenant not paying rent you would start with a 5 day pay or quit.

Most of our tenants already know what they are what they are not supposed to do. Our leases are often very heavily worded requiring the tenant to behave in their community. Unfortunately, sometimes the tenant you think will be best will do an about face and end up being the worst tenant you have.

Keeping the yard free and clear of trash, mowing on a regular basis, not causing disturbances of any kind to the neighbors, etc. The problem is that if they pay their rent the landlord is required to give a 21 day notice to remedy. Can't give a 5 day pay or quit. And if not remedied within 21 days the 30th day the landlord can file for eviction. If they fix the problem within the 30 days and let it happen again next month or whenever in the future, the law requires that the landlord files "another" 21 day notice to remedy. And that has to go on and on until they mess up and don't remedy the issue within the given period of time. If the landlord unlawfully files for eviction prior to the given period of time the Judge will not only throw out the case but legal aid will sue the landlord for triple damages.

There is even more to it beyond the 30 days to remedy that is in a landlords way of terminating a tenancy within a reasonable amount of time. Once we can get to the point where we can file for eviction, we have at least 3 weeks to wait for a court date.

If the tenant says the words "I contest" and the judge often leads them to do so by asking them if they contest, the judge will give them a couple more weeks to return to court to prove that they have not caused the violation of the lease at hand.

Sometimes on that 2nd court date the tenant will call up and have it continued which gives them another couple weeks. They will only allow them to continue the case 1 time. And on that final court date, if the judge sides with the landlord, the judge will grant "possession" of the property to the landlord.

The landlord is then required to wait for 10 days before filing a "writ of possession" which is basically getting the sheriff to come out and allowing the landlord for the first time to physically remove them and their property from the dwelling. The 10 days is to give the tenant a chance to "appeal" the judges decision.

If they appeal it the process drags out even further.

Once the writ of possession has been filed the sheriff typically will give the landlord a call within 3-4 days to schedule a time to come out.

The sheriff by law has up to one month to meet the landlord and get the people out. Most often the sheriff does not wait for the month but will schedule the time for about 2 weeks from the date that they call you.

Best case scenario, the tenant "doesn't" show up to court on the first court date so they don't contest and there are no problems. In this case you have them out in 1.5 months from the date you file for eviction... which is already "at least" 30 days beyond the time where the neighbors called with issues that the tenant is having.

And normally the landlord will first attempt to resolve the issue with the tenant by requesting that they stop what they are doing before jumping the gun and giving them the written 21 day notice to remedy the second they get their first call. So in best case scenario we have 2.5 months if the landlord gives a notice to remedy on the very first call.

And if the tenant shows up to court as you can see above from the notice to remedy + the court dates you're looking good if you can get them out in 5 months.

At this point in time the neighbors are burning up thinking the landlord isn't doing anything about it through this very long legal process. And we are burning up as well. Because the minute we give them that notice, quite often they stop paying rent. So we now have deadbeat tenants but still have to pay the mortgage throughout that time, and furious neighbors calling up thinking we aren't doing anything about it. Meanwhile we have a tenant tearing up our house because they are mad at us for trying to get rid of them and calling code enforcement on the damage THEY just created. And code enforcement is all over us about fixing the TENANT damage.

So everyone is mad at the landlord but the anger in my opinion is most often misdirected and should be focused on the legal system and the politicians who decided what's best for the tenants with complete disregard to the landlords and the neighbors.

For those who are thinking it is a case of improper tenant screening, you are wrong. Most of us screen our tenants because we don't want the drama and loss of income associated with not doing so.

I see the root of the problem as being a characteristic of a different socioeconomic class of people than the property owners within the neighborhoods and is part of having diversity of various economic backgrounds living amongst each other; which is a goal of the city. Therefore good solutions would include a speedy removal of tenants that are disturbing the neighborhood. One man can not justly be blamed for the actions of another.

Problems associated between neighborhood associations and landlords can easily be fixed but it requires communication in doing so. REI of Roanoke has solutions to the issues at hand which will require the support of the Roanoke City judicial system and Roanokes Legal Aid in working with landlords and neighborhood associations on a specific law within the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act that gives room for speedy judgment on drug related issues but is not presently clear enough for a landlord to act upon tenant / neighbor problems other than something drug related.

Force (PROP) by any means is not only a form of tyranny but it's an abuse of power and the outcome of this oppression will not be beneficial for any side. Good communication is always the solution to an issue but for some reason there has been a major lack of communication in Roanoke.

Honestly I'm not understanding why the neighborhood associations and city have gotten together without inviting the leading investment group in Roanoke, REI of Roanoke.


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