So you have gone through the first step and given your tenant the appropriate type of notice to begin the eviction process. What happens next? After the timeline in the notice has passed, and if your tenant has not vacated the property or come current on the rent, the next step is to seek court help in evicting the tenant. In Virginia, an eviction is accomplished by filing an Unlawful Detainer in the appropriate General District Court.
So what is an unlawful detainer, and what are some things you need to be aware of before it is filed?
What is an Unlawful Detainer?
Any lawsuit in Virginia starts with documentation called a “pleading.” A pleading is a document which tells the court why you are asking for a legal decision and what facts support your request for legal relief. Eviction cases in Virginia are handled through a pleading known as an unlawful detainer.
An unlawful detainer tells the court a number of different things. The unlawful detainer needs to a) identify the property where the tenant is residing, b) identify the owner of the property as the plaintiff, c) identify the tenants of the property as the defendants and d) identify any damages that you may have suffered. Damages can include, but are not limited to, past due rent and destruction of your rental property.
Is an Unlawful Detainer the Only Required Document?
No, there are several other documents that are required to be filed with the court. Failure to file these documents may cause your case to be dismissed. These documents include, but are not limited to, a “soldiers and sailors affidavit,” which tells the court whether your tenants are in the armed forces, a copy of the lease, and a copy of the notice.
Why You Need A Lawyer
If you do not file the appropriate documentation with the court, or if you do not properly fill your the documentation, your case will be dismissed. If your case is dismissed, then your tenants may be able to stay in the property for longer than you had envisioned. This can lead to lost rent and, in some cases, destruction of your property. If you are facing eviction proceedings, hire a lawyer to make sure the proper steps are followed.