Evictions

My Landlord Says I Have to Move Out

Your landlord cannot evict you without a court order, no matter what your lease says. You do not have to move out just because the landlord tells you to leave, gives you written notice, or files an eviction lawsuit (“unlawful detainer”) against you. Your landlord must follow court procedure before evicting you.

Lease non-renewal
If you stay after your lease was set to end, you do not have to leave just because your landlord tells you to leave. If the landlord continues to accept rent payments and does not use the words “without reservation,” your landlord must first give you a written notice and provide you an opportunity to leave voluntarily before filing an eviction lawsuit against you.

  • The landlord can choose not need to give a reason for not renewing the lease.
  • The landlord or tenant may end a week-to-week lease by giving you a written notice at least seven days before the next rent payment is due.
  • The landlord or tenant may end a month to month lease by serving a written notice at least 30 days before the next rent payment is due, unless the lease agreement requires a different notice period.
  • The landlord and tenant may also agree in writing to early termination of a rental agreement.


If you rent a lot in a mobile home park, your lease will automatically renew at the end of your lease for another one-year term.

  • If the landlord does not want to renew the lease or wants to make changes to the lease terms, such as the rent amount, the landlord must give you written notice of these changes at least 60 days before your lease ends.


My home was foreclosed on and the new owner wants me out.

  • If you are the former owner – A former homeowner living in a property that is sold at foreclosure becomes a tenant “at sufferance” until either the new owner provides the former owner with a lease or terminates their “at sufferance” tenancy. To evict the former owner, the new owner of must give the former owner (now tenant at sufferance) a 3-day written notice terminating the tenancy. After the expiration of the three days, the new owner can file an Unlawful Detainer to get possession of the home. The new owner can sue the former homeowner for fair market rent from the date of the foreclosure until the date the former homeowner leaves, as well as damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs.
  • If you are a tenant of the former owner – New owners who buy property in a foreclosure sale must honor existing leases. The landlord cannot evict a tenant with more than 90 days remaining in the lease term. There is one exception: if the new owner intends to occupy the property as a primary residence, the new owner may end the lease early with 90 days’ written notice. To terminate a lease with less than 90 days left in the lease term, the landlord must give 90 days’ written notice that the lease will end. There is one exception: if the new owner intends to occupy the property as a primary residence, the new owner may end the lease early with 90 days’ notice.


Property that is uninhabitable due to fire, flooding, other accident

If the property becomes uninhabitable due to fire, flooding, or some other accident, the landlord or tenant can end the lease by giving 14 days’ written notice. The landlord must return all of the security deposit and any pre-paid rent.

Remodeling or change of use of the property.
If the landlord wants you to move out in order to fix up the property or change use of the property, typically the landlord must give you 120 days written notice to end the lease. If you have a month to month tenancy, the landlord must give written notice 30 days before your next rent payment. If you have a week-to-week tenancy, the landlord must give you written notice 7 days before your next rent payment.

If you live in a mobile home park and the landlord wants you to move in order to change the use of the park, the landlord must give you written notice 180 days before ending the lease. You and the landlord can agree in writing to end the lease the 180 days runs out. Additionally, the landlord must – within the 180-day period – give each resident $2,500 in relocation expenses. In Northern Virginia, this amount is $3,500. Relocation expenses are subject to an agreement between the landlord and resident that the resident will remove the home from the park.

Remediable violations
If you have violated the terms of the lease, but the problem can be fixed, the landlord must give you an opportunity to do so.

If you did not pay rent on time, the landlord must give a written notice that tells you the amount that you owe and the option to either pay or leave within 5 days. If you choose to pay within 5 days, you get to stay. If you leave, the landlord can still sue for the amount you owe. If you do not pay and stay, the landlord can begin eviction proceedings against you.

If the landlord says you violated some other lease term, the landlord must give a written notice describing the violation and give you 21 days to fix the violation. For example, your lease does not allow guests to stay for more than a week, and you have had a visitor for two weeks, you may have committed a remediable violation. The landlord is required to give you a written notice saying you have violated the lease by allowing a guest to stay more than one week and then give you 21 days to fix the violation. If the guest does not leave after 21 days, the landlord can file an eviction case against you 30 days after giving you the written notice.

Non-remediable violations.
Certain conduct is considered a “non-remediable” breach. Generally, if the lease violation is “non-remediable,” the landlord must give you 30 days’ notice of the violation before ending the lease.

One exception to this general rule is if the violation is criminal or a willful act that is not remediable and that poses a threat to health or safety of other residents. In this situation, the landlord does not need to provide a written notice and may immediately end the lease and file and eviction lawsuit. The landlord does not need to wait for a criminal conviction related to the violation.

My Landlord is Suing Me For An Eviction

Your landlord cannot evict you without a court order, no matter what your lease says. You do not have to move out just because the landlord tells you to leave, gives you written notice, or files an eviction lawsuit (“unlawful detainer”) against you. Your landlord must follow court procedure before evicting you.

 

In most situations, the landlord must first give you a written notice before filing an eviction lawsuit against you.

  • An oral notice telling you to leave is not good enough.
  • You do not have to move just because the landlord tells you to leave.


The written notice must include:

  1. The reason for the eviction;
  2. What you can do to stop the eviction; and
  3. The amount of time you have to fix the problem before the landlord can take you to court. The length of time required before taking you to court depends on the reason for the eviction.


Not paying rent on time
If your landlord wants to evict you for not paying rent, the landlord must give you a written notice to either move or pay rent in 5 days.

  • For tenants in conventional public housing, the landlord must give you a written notice to either move or pay rent in 14 days.


The written notice must include:

  1. The option to pay or leave and
  2. The amount due.


An oral notice to move does not allow the landlord to start an eviction. If you pay the rent within the time period, you get to stay. If you do not pay, the landlord can start an unlawful detainer (eviction) lawsuit against you in General District court. You do not have to move out just because your landlord has filed a lawsuit.

Staying after the lease ends
If you stay after your lease was set to end, you do not have to leave just because your landlord tells you to leave. If the landlord continues to accept rent payments and does not the use the words “without reservation”, your landlord must first give you a written notice and provide you an opportunity to leave voluntarily before filing an eviction lawsuit against you.

  • The landlord or tenant may end a week-to-week lease by giving you a written notice at least seven days before the next rent payment is due.
  • The landlord or tenant may end a month to month lease by serving a written notice at least 30 days before the next rent payment is due, unless the lease agreement includes a different notice period.
  • The landlord and tenant may also agree in writing to early termination of a rental agreement.


Remedial lease breach
If the landlord wants to evict for a reason other than non-payment of rent and the problem can be fixed, the landlord must give you a written notice stating that if the problem is not corrected within 21 days, the lease will terminate in 30 days. The written notice must explain the problem or reason the landlord wants to evict you. If you correct the problem in 21 days, you get to stay. If not, the landlord can start an unlawful detainer in General District court after the 30-day period.

If you correct the problem, but the same problem happens again, the landlord does not have to give you another 21-day time period to fix the problem, but can instead give you a 30-day written notice.

Non-remedial lease breach
If the landlord wants to evict for a reason other than non-payment of rent and the breach cannot be fixed, the landlord must typically give you 30 days’ written notice to leave before filing an eviction lawsuit against you. The written notice must specify the actions constituting the breach and state that the lease will end 30 days after the tenant receives the notice.

Threat to health or safety
If the breach involves criminal conduct or behavior that poses a threat to health or safety, including illegal drug activity, the landlord is not required to send a notice to end the lease. The landlord can immediately file the eviction lawsuit. The landlord does not need to wait for a criminal conviction related to the activity.

Foreclosed Property

  • Person being evicted is the former owner
    – A former homeowner living in a property that is sold at foreclosure becomes a tenant “at sufferance” until the new owner terminates their tenancy. The new owner of must give the former owner (now tenant at sufferance) a 3-day written notice terminating the tenancy. After the expiration of the three days, the new owner can file an Unlawful Detainer to get possession of the home. The new owner can sue the former homeowner for fair market rent from the date of the foreclosure until the date the former homeowner leaves, as well as damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs.
  • Person being evicted is a tenant of the former owner
    – New owners who buy property in a foreclosure sale must honor existing leases. The landlord, old or new, cannot evict a tenant with more than 90 days remaining in the lease term. There is one exception: if the new owner intends to occupy the property as a primary residence, the new owner may end the lease early with 90 days’ written notice. To terminate a lease with less than 90 days left in the lease term, the landlord must give 90 days’ written notice that the lease will end. There is one exception: if the new owner intends to occupy the property as a primary residence, the new owner may end the lease early with 90 days’ notice.


Property is uninhabitable due to fire, flooding, other accident

If the property becomes uninhabitable due to fire, flooding, or some other accident, the landlord or tenant can end the lease by giving 14 days’ written notice. The landlord must return the security deposit and any pre-paid rent.

After the landlord:

  1. Gives you the required written notice,
  2. Waits the required amount of time for you to fix the lease violation,
  3. and if you have not fixed the violation, the landlord can then file an eviction lawsuit again you in court, called an “unlawful detainer.”


The landlord must “serve” (legally deliver) the “Summons for Unlawful Detainer” on you.

  • The summons will tell you the date, time and place of your court hearing, and the amount of money the landlord is claiming you owe, such as rent, interest, late fees, damages, court costs, and attorney’s fees.


The landlord can “serve” the summons in three different ways:

  1. Give the summons to you in person, usually by a Deputy Sheriff or private process server.
  2. Give the summons to a member of your household, usually by a Deputy Sheriff or private process server. The household member must be 16 years or older. The person serving the summons must explain what it is.
  3. Post the summons on your front door and then mail you a copy by first class mail.


If you never actually get the paper or you never saw it on your front door, so long as the landlord has done one of these three things, the landlord has legally served you and the eviction case will move forward. You should tell household members to pay attention to court papers and you should pay attention yourself.

If you can’t go to court on the date of your eviction case, you must ask the court for a new hearing date. This is called a “continuance.” Different courts have different rules for getting a continuance. In some courts, the Clerk can give a continuance. In others, only the Judge can give a continuance.

To find out the rule for your court, call the Clerk’s Office as soon as you know you can’t go to court on the date of your court hearing. Ask to be told the rule to get a continuance and follow that rule. In addition to calling the Clerk’s Office, it is a good idea to write and fax a letter to the court explaining why you need a continuance.

If you want to oppose the eviction or don’t agree with how much the landlord is claiming you, get prepared for your hearing in advance. You do not need a lawyer in General District Court, but a lawyer can help you. Gather your evidence, which may include a copy of the lease, any notices from your landlord, copies of communications you had with the landlord, and witnesses that support your case. If a witness does not want to come to court, you can the Clerk to subpoena the witness. A subpoena is a court order that says a witness must come to court. You must ask the Clerk for the subpoena at least 10 days before your court date. The court will charge a small fee for the subpoena. If you don’t have enough money to pay this (or any other) fee, ask the Clerk for “Petition for Proceeding in Civil Case without payment of Fees or Costs.” This is also called “Form CC-1414.”

If you don’t want to oppose the eviction, you can still pay everything you owe the landlord, including all rent, fees, court costs, and attorney fees, on or before your court date, you can stay in the property. This is called the right of “redemption.” You can only use this once in a 12-month period that you continue to live in the same place. If you exercise the right of redemption, the landlord should dismiss the lawsuit.
An attorney is in the best position to evaluate your eviction case and explain possible defense. Here is a brief overview of possible defenses you can discuss with an attorney:
  1. The landlord did not provide proper notice and opportunity to fix the lease violation.
  2. You dispute the amount of rent the landlord is claiming you owe.
  3. The landlord is charging you for improper late fees and or attorney’s fees.
    • The landlord can only charge late fees if the lease allows. Late fees are capped at 10% of the monthly rent or 10% of the total amount owed to the landlord, whichever is less.
    • The landlord can only charge attorneys’ fees if the lease says so and the attorney fees must be reasonable.
  4. You paid what you owe the landlord and therefore the eviction case should have been dismissed.
  5. The landlord refused to accept payment for the amount you owe.
  6. The landlord did not keep the place in a safe, habitable condition and you told your landlord about the problem in writing before the landlord sued you. To use this defense, you must pay rent to the court instead of the landlord.
  7. The landlord wants to evict you because you complained or used legal rights.
    • To use this defense, the landlord must know that you complained to the landlord or government agency about a rental housing problem, or that you joined a tenant’s group, before the landlord sued you for eviction.

You should consult with an attorney to discuss other possible defenses to your case.
If you don’t want to oppose the eviction or exercise your right of redemption, you don’t have to go to court. You will not be arrested if you do not go to court for your eviction case. If you don’t go to court, and the landlord does and proves its case, you will lose the eviction case.

Even if you lose your eviction case, you have one last opportunity to pay what owe and stay in the property. Under what is called the extended right of redemption, you can pay all amounts owed, including rent, late fees, court costs, Sheriff’s fees, and reasonable attorney’s fees (if the landlord used an attorney). Payment must be by cashier’s check, certified check, or money order. If you pay at least 72 hours before the scheduled Sheriff’s eviction, the eviction is cancelled. Confirm with both the landlord and the Sheriff to be sure.
You should get to court at least 15 minutes before your hearing it scheduled and let the Clerk know you have arrived. The judge will call you name and ask whether you admit or deny what the landlord said in the Summons for Unlawful Detainer.

If you admit what the landlord says, the Court will enter an order for possession of the property and a money judgment for the rent, damages, costs, and fees the landlord seeks.
  • If the landlord asks, the Judge can give immediate possession and allow the landlord to get a writ of eviction right away.
  • The writ of eviction is what instructs the Sheriff to schedule the actual eviction.
  • The landlord must wait 10 days before getting the writ of eviction issued to the Sheriff.

If you disagree with the landlord, the court will usually set another date for trial.
  • The judge will also ask both you and the landlord if you want the other side to put in writing why each feels they are right.
  • The landlord’s writing is called a Bill of Particulars which explains why they are entitled to possession of the property and any money sought.
  • Your writing is called a Grounds of Defense which explains why the landlord is wrong.
  • The judge will set a date for when these are due to be filed with the court and sent to the other side.
  • If you do not submit your Gounds of Defense by the required date, you can automatically lose without ever having the trial.

If you ask the case to be set for another day, the landlord can ask the court that you pay all the rent owed to the court until the trial date.
  • Unless you have a good defense to the case, the judge will give you 7 days to pay the money to the court.
  • If you fail to make the payment on time, the landlord can ask for judgement without every having the trial.

Sometimes, the judge may ask you to step into the hallway to work things out with your landlord.
  • Never agree to anything or sign anything if you are not 100% sure you know what you are agreeing to!
  • Do not leave the court without checking back in with the Judge so you understand what is happening with your case.

When the case is heard, all witnesses will have to speak under oath.
  • The landlord goes first. You will get a chance to question the landlord and any other witnesses.
  • After that, you and your witnesses will testify.
  • Then the landlord gets to ask you questions.
  • At the end, each can make a short closing argument, telling all the reasons the judge should decide the case for the landlord or tenant.
  • After hearing both sides, the judge will decide the case.
  • If you win, you can stay on as if you never came to court. The losing party has 10 days to appeal the case.
If you don’t agree with the judge’s decision, you can appeal the case to a higher court. You only have 10 days from your court date to file the appeal.

To appeal from the General District Court to Circuit Court, you must do these three things within ten days from when the judge enters the decision for your case:
  1. Fill out a Notice of Appeal (Form DC-475) in the General District Court Clerk’s office.
  2. Pay, or get the court to waive, the fees of the Circuit Court.
  3. Pay, or get the court to waive, the appeal bond.

In nonpayment of rent cases, the appeal bond cannot be waived. You must post an appeal bond for the amount of the money judgement. After that, you must continue to pay ongoing rent as it becomes due.

The Circuit Court will hear your case de novo, meaning the case will get a do-over in front of a different judge. In Circuit Court, you can also ask for a jury trial.
For the most part, the eviction process is the same as other rental property, except there are a few additional protections for federally subsidized tenants.

All federally subsidized landlords must have a good reason to evict you. This means you broke the lease in a major way or many times, you broke the law in a major way or many times, or some other good reason. A good reason would be not paying rent, not obeying the lease rules, damaging the property, or causing danger to health and safety of residents.

I have a tenant-based housing subsidy, such as a Section 8 voucher; can my landlord evict me?
If you are in the first year of your lease, the landlord’s reason to evict you must be based on your fault, such as you didn’t pay your portion of the rent. If you are beyond the first year of your lease, your landlord’s reason to evict you need not be based on your fault. This includes your landlord’s wish to use the property for a purpose other than as a residential rent unit.

The landlord cannot demand that you pay additional rent that is not required under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contract. The landlord cannot evict you based on nonpayment of the federally subsidized portion of the rent.

The landlord must give you a written notice before taking you to court. The notice must include these keys pieces of information:
  1. The reason for the eviction;
  2. The proposed date for ending the lease;
  3. Inform you of the right to present defenses and only the reasons stated in the notice can be used to evict you; and
  4. The legal aid phone number and website address.

If you are receiving a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, immediately let the issuing Public Housing Authority (PHA) know if you are unable to pay your rent.
  • Send copies of any correspondence between you and your landlord to the PHA so that they are made aware of any problems that arise between you and your landlord.
  • PHA’s have the right to terminate your voucher if you are evicted from your residence, and most often they will assert that right without question.

You can request a grievance hearing if your voucher is being terminated because of an eviction, unless you are being evicted for certain criminal offenses.
  • If you believe you are being evicted illegally, you can raise any defenses against the voucher termination in the grievance hearing.
  • You can bring in legal counsel to a grievance hearing as well.
  • Your Section 8 voucher will likely be in jeopardy if you are evicted from your unit.
  • Speak to an attorney for assistance if you are a Section 8 voucher holder facing eviction.

I live in traditional public housing; can my landlord evict me?
The Public Housing Authority (PHA) that owns and manages your housing is responsible for following federal regulation that sets the standards for how public housing evictions are to be handled. If you are evicted from public housing, you will lose your opportunity to receive federally assisted low-income housing.

The PHA can evict you for:
  • Non-payment of rent;
  • Other serious or repeated violations of the lease;
  • Crime that threatens health, safety or quiet enjoyment of other tenants in the building;
  • Drug-related activity on or nearby the complex; or
  • Other good cause.

In most cases, you have the right to a pre-eviction grievance process. Ask your PHA for a copy of its grievance procedure. The timeline for the grievance procedure is very short, so pay close attention to dates!

Evictions in public housing for non-payment of rent require 14 days’ notice, which may be given before the service of a 5-day notice to pay or vacate required under state law. In some cases, the 14-day notice to pay rent or vacate may come instead of a 5-day notice.

The written notice must include:
  1. The reason for the eviction;
  2. The proposed date for ending the lease;
  3. Inform you of the right to present defenses and only the reasons stated in the notice can be used to evict you; and
  4. The address, phone number and website for the local legal aid program.

The PHA is still required to follow the court eviction process. If you are evicted, you may be barred from re-admission to subsidized housing for 5 or more years, depending on the circumstances. It is highly recommended that you speak to an attorney about your case.

For the most part, the eviction process for tenants renting a mobile home lot is the same as other rental property, but there are a few special rules. These special rules apply to mobile home parks with 10 or more mobile homes on the property which are used regularly for non-recreational use.

How long do I have to leave the park if I lose my eviction case?
If you lose your eviction case, you have 90 days from the date the judge entered the court order for possession to leave. You have three options:

  1. Move you mobile home from the park;
  2. Sell the home; or
  3. Rent the home to another person.
    • To take advantage of the option, you have to continue paying lot rent and the landlord must approve the new person, which is referred to as a sub-tenant.
    • In this situation, the subtenant would pay you rent for the home, and you would continue to be responsible for paying the landlord the lot rent.

In any of these options, you cannot stay in the mobile home as of the date stated on the Writ of Possession served by the Sheriff.

What happens if I don’t pay?
The company that finance your mobile home and has a lien on it will be sent a notice about the eviction case.

  • That company will have a responsibility for the charges during the 90-day period but will likely take action to repossess the home if you do not pay.
  • Also, the landlord will have a lien on the mobile home for the rental payments that are not made during the 90-day period.
  • That lien will second to the rights of your lender.

Can the park owner stop me from trying to sell the mobile home?
The park cannot unreasonably stop you from putting a for sale sign on the home, but may have rules about the size and type of sign allowed and where it can be placed.

What do I have to do if I find a possible buyer for the home?
You will have to give written notice to the landlord with the name of the possible buyer if that buyer wants to leave the mobile home on that lot and rent the lot.

  • The buyer will have to meet the regular qualifications for that the park has for all tenants who wish to live there, such as financial ability to pay.
  • The landlord cannot refuse to allow sale and continued rental of the lot just because the home is old.
  • The landlord cannot require repairs of the home that are not required of any other tenant in the park.

Can the park owner charge me or my buyer an exit fee if the home is moved out of the park?
No. But, if anything belonging to the park is damaged during the move, there could be charges for that.

What if I just abandon the mobile home?
If the mobile home has a lien and security interest on it, the landlord should send notice of the abandonment and what is or will be owed in rent and other charges to the lender and to you. The lender will have a certain amount of time to remove the home and/or dispose of the home according to law.

Ordinarily, your landlord must take you to court and get a court order before a sheriff can evict you. BUT, there are some exceptions for hotels, motels, and boarding houses, depending on how long you have lived there.

If you have lived in the hotel, motel, or boarding house for more than 90 days and it is your primary residence, you have legal protections against eviction.
  • It is illegal to evict you without getting a court order and having the sheriff conduct the eviction.
  • If the eviction is for nonpayment of rent, the landlord must give you a written 5-day notice before taking you to court. The notice must tell you how much you owe and give you 5 days to pay or the landlord will terminate the lease.
  • After 5 days are up, the landlord must file an “unlawful detainer” case in court to ask for a court order to evict you.
  • If your landlord tries to evict you without going through the court process, you can file a lawsuit to stop it. For more information, see our information sheet titled “Unlawful Eviction Toolkit”.

If you have lived in a hotel, motel, or boarding house for less than 90 days and do not have a lease of at least 90 days, you do not have the same legal protections against eviction.
  • The hotel/motel can evict you without taking you to court.
  • If the room or suite has been your primary residence, the landlord must give you a written 5-day notice of nonpayment before evicting you.
  • If it is not your primary residence, the landlord can evict you without the 5-day notice.

Staying After My Lease Ends

If your lease ends and you want to stay, you have a few options.

  1. You and your landlord can agree to extend your lease until a date after it is scheduled to end. Make sure you get any agreement to extend your lease in writing!
  2. If your landlord agrees to let you stay but doesn’t give you a new written lease, the terms of the lease that expired still apply.
    • If you paid rent in monthly installments, your lease becomes a month to month lease.
    • If you paid rent in weekly installments, you lease becomes a month to month lease. Your landlord can charge you a different rent amount if he gives you advanced notice.
    • For a week-to-week lease, the landlord must give you 7 days’ notice before changing the rent amount.
    • For a month to month lease, the landlord must give you 30 days’ notice before changing the rent amount.
  3. If you rent a lot in a mobile home park, the lease will automatically renew as a one-year lease with the same lease terms.
    • If the landlord wants to have different lease terms, the landlord must provide you with notice at least 60 days before your current lease expires.
  4. If the landlord does not say anything about letting you stay, but continues to accept rent “without reservation”, the terms of the lease that expired still apply. The same rules apply as if your landlord agreed to let you stay but didn’t give you a new written lease.
  5. If you stay after your lease expires without the agreement of your landlord, the landlord must go through the usual process to evict you.

My Landlord Locked Me Out or Cut Off My Utilities

Your landlord cannot evict you without a court order, no matter what your lease says. You do not have to move out just because the landlord tells you to leave, gives you a “5-Day Pay or Quit” or other written notice, or files an eviction lawsuit (‘unlawful detainer’) against you. Your landlord CANNOT cut off your utilities, including water and electricity.

If your landlord illegally locks you out or cuts off your utilities without a court order, you can sue your landlord to get back into your home. The lawsuit is called a “Tenant’s Petition for Relief from Unlawful Exclusion.”

Go to the General District Court in the city or county where your home is located and file a lawsuit called a “Tenant’s Petition for Relief from Unlawful Exclusion (Form DC-431).”
  • You can use the form that is attached or ask the clerk for Form DC-431.
  • You can file this on your own, by yourself, without an attorney.

When you fill out the Tenant’s Petition, you fill in the name and physical address of the true owner of the property as the Defendant-Landlord.

  • If you are not certain about the name and physical address of the true owner of the property, you will have to do a real property search. Google “real property search” and the name of your County or Independent City. For example, “Richmond real property search.”
  • If the true owner is not a “natural” person – for example, a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC) – there is one more thing you have to do. You must get the name and physical address of the registered agent of the company. To get this, call the Virginia State Corporation Commission at 804-371-9733 or 866-722-2551 or go on their website and enter the name of the company where it says “Entity Name” and look for the information for their registered agent under “Registered Agent Information.”
  • When you fill out the lawsuit, you fill in the name of the company as the Defendant-Landlord, and the name and physical address of their registered agent.
  • When you fill out the lawsuit, you need to decide what you want the judge to do. You can ask the judge for any of these things: allow you back into the house (i.e.—to recover possession), turn back on your utilities, end the rental agreement, or get back any money you had to spend because you were locked out (i.e.—recover your actual damages) and attorney’s fees.
To file the case and have the sheriff serve the lawsuit on your landlord will cost about $58.  You can ask the clerk for the exact amount.
  • You may ask the clerk for a “Petition for Proceeding in Civil Case without Payment of Fees or Costs” (Form CC-1414) if you can’t afford to pay the fee. But, this may cause a delay in your case.
  • You should also send a letter to your landlord to let them know you have filed a lawsuit against them. The letter should contain a copy of your lawsuit.
  • Keep a copy of the form for yourself.
After filing your lawsuit, the court sets a hearing date and has the landlord served to make sure they know to come to court.
  • If you do not come to court on your trial date, the court will dismiss your case. If you come to court and the other side does not, you should get a judgment.
Before the hearing date, get your evidence together and practice what you want to tell the judge.
  • You can also ask the clerk to help you subpoena witnesses who have agreed to come to court.
  • Subpoenas cost $12 each, unless your filing fees were waived.
  • Gather evidence, such as a copy of your lease if you have one, text messages or emails with your landlord, receipts, and pictures.
  • When the case is heard, you will present your evidence first.
  • The landlord or judge may ask you questions. Then the landlord gets to present evidence and witnesses.
  • You can question them about what they have said, but don’t argue with them.
  • If both sides come to court, the judge will hear both sides and decide who wins.
If you feel comfortable doing so, call the police.
  • Be prepared to show the police your copy of the “Unlawful Exclusion” lawsuit.
  • Call your local legal aid for further help.