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Can my landlord change the locks for nonpayment of rent on the 11th of the month?

Chesapeake, VA |

I am a month to month tenant in Virginia. I have not paid my rent as of 6/9. my landlord came into my home when i was not there on 6/6 and left a 5 day pay or vacate notice inside my home. Today on 6/9 my landlord called me and said she is going to change the locks on 6/11. Can she do that?

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Attorney answers 2


Absolutely NOT.

You must be evicted in accordance with Virginia's statues. Landlords cannot 'lock-out' a tenant if they do, they open themselves to liability in suit.

Call police if LL attempts to change the locks. If she actually changes them while you are out or unaware, you may be physically barred from entry for a few days, until you can get a lawyer or the authorities to take steps to inform your LL that she is violating state law.

A month-to-month situation allows that either the LL or the Tenant may terminate the relationships--but that requires 30 days’ notice. Failure to pay rent is grounds for eviction, and an efficient LL will begin the process the day after a payment is missed--you already received the Pay or Quit notice. If you fail to pay or quit, LL must then file an unlawful detainer (an eviction suit) in the local general district court. That process can take 4-8 weeks before the court issues a judgment.

Recommend you pay the LL ASAP and smooth over your late payment issues prepared to find another lease agreement because if LL wants you out, you will be gone eventually.

READ THIS BEFORE CALLING OR EMAILING ME: I am licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. Addressing your issue does not create an attorney-client relationship and I AM providing you educational information NOT legal advice. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. I am not obligated to answer subsequent emails or phone calls unless you have hired me. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.


NO. The landlord must follow VA law related to evicition of tenants. After the 5 day pay or quit notice has been sent, in order to retake the premises he must file an unlawful detainer. I agree with the lawyer who answered above; you should pay your rent as soon as possible and try to work something out with the LL.

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