Virginia Unlawful Detainers - Types of Judgments for Possession and the Eviction Process
Landlords and Tenants may not understand the implications of judgments for possession. This guide explains what types of possession can be granted, the time frames for those types of possession, how the Sheriff's Office is involved with Writs of Possession, and what happens at the actual eviction.
Types of PossessionThere are three types of judgment for possession that a Court can grant: A) immediate; B) possession at a certain date agreed upon by the Landlord and Tenants; and C) 10 day possession. A) Immediate Possession is only granted when there is a default, meaning that the tenant did not appear in court at any time. Immediate Possession allows a Landlord to file a Writ of Possession with the Clerk's Office immediately, and allows the Clerk's Office to process the Writ of Possession immediately, although this process generally takes about three days. B) Possession can be granted at a certain date that is agreed upon by the Landlord and Tenants. This only occurs if there is an agreement between the parties that allows for a granting of possession and provides a particular date when the Tenants are supposed to vacate and turn over possession to the Landlord. This agreement can and should be memorialized in an Agreed Order, which should be filed with the Court. Depending upon the Court, the judge may only want the details from the Agreed Order instead of having the Agreed Order entered into the file. A possession award on a certain date means that the Writ of Possession will not be processed by the Clerk's office until that agreed upon date. C) 10 day possession is the awarded in all situations other than when there is a default or an agreement between the parties. 10 day possession is granted when Tenants appear at the first return, but do not contest the Landlord's right to possession, and is also granted if the Court enters a judgment in Landlord's favor at a trial. 10 day possession means that the Writ of Possession will not be processed by the Clerk's office until at least 10 days have passed since the judgment was entered.
Sheriff's Office Time Frames and Scheduling the EvictionAfter the Clerk's Office has processed the Writ of Possession, the Writ is sent to the Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office then needs to process the Writ of Possession. This involves entering information into their system and geographically dividing up the Writs of Possession to give to particular officers. How quickly a Writ of Possession is processed depends largely on how busy the Sheriff's Office is. Although it generally takes only a few days, it could be weeks. Virginia Code ? 8.01-470 (http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+8.01-470) instructs the Sheriff's office to execute the Writ of Possession "within 15 calendar days from the date the writ of possession is received by the sheriff, or as soon as practicable thereafter, but in no event later than 30 days from the date the writ of possession is issued." Once the Writ of Possession has been assigned to a particular officer, that officer will use the contact information on the Writ of Possession to schedule the eviction. The officer is required to post the Writ of Possession at the property, and provide a date and time that is at least 72 hours after the time of posting for the eviction to occur. See Va. Code ? 8.01-470 (http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+8.01-470). When the officer calls to schedule the eviction, the Landlord or Landlord's agent should be prepared with a date and time that is at least 72 hours from the phone call that you received. Be mindful that at the eviction, the Landlord will need to have someone there to change the locks, otherwise the officer may not conduct the eviction.
A) The Eviction, B) Changing the Locks and C) Obligations Regarding Items Left at the PropertyA) Landlord, or Landlord's agent needs to be present during the eviction. The officer conducting the eviction may contact the Landlord prior to the scheduled eviction time to postpone the eviction until a later time that day if the officer has been delayed. During the eviction, the officer will enter the property, going from room to room to confirm that no occupants remain at the property. B) At this time, the locks must be changed, so that any prior tenants do not move back into the property. C) There are two types of evictions that can be conducted, although most Landlords have a 24 Hour Storage Eviction, instead of the Public Way Eviction. In the 24 Hour Storage Eviction, any personal property of the Tenants that has been left at the property can remain at the property for up to 24 hours. Landlord may choose to have all the personal property kept where it is, moved into a particular room or storage area, moved to a garage, or even moved to a storage facility owned by the Landlord. It will be the responsibility of the Landlord and/or Landlord's agents to move any of the personal property; it is not the responsibility of the officer or the Sheriff's office to move any of the personal property. During these 24 hours, the Tenants have the right to return to where the personal property is located during reasonable times and to remove the personal property. It is due to this right of the Tenants that the Landlord may prefer to move any personal property to a storage facility, storage area or a garage, so that the Tenants would not have access to the house or apartment. If Tenants remain in the property after the 24 hour period, the Tenants are trespassing. During this 24-hour period and until the Landlord disposes of the remaining personal property of the Tenants, the Landlord and the Sheriff shall not have any liability for the loss of such personal property. However, if the Landlord fails to allow reasonable access to the Tenants to remove their personal property, the Tenants shall have a right to injunctive relief and such other relief as may be provided by law. Any property remaining in the Landlord's storage area after the 24-hour period after eviction may be sold, disposed of, or destroyed by the Landlord. If Landlord sells the real property left behind by the Tenants, the proceeds of the sale must be applied to the account of the Tenants. These proceeds should be used to offset the reasonable costs incurred by the Landlord in the eviction process as well as the reasonable costs of storing and selling the real property. If any funds remain after offsetting these expenses, any remaining funds should be treated as a security deposit according to the terms of the Lease and the applicable law. See Va. Code 55-237.1 (http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+55-237.1). The other type of eviction is the Public Way Eviction. This generally is not chosen as it may require a lot more people present, take additional time, and could conflict with HOA or Condo Association rules. The Public Way Eviction requires all of Tenants' property to be placed on the nearest public right of way. Landlord will be responsible for providing enough people to move all of the property to the public right of way. The Sheriff will not assist in the removal of the property, although they must be present during the removal. The Sheriff may additionally require the Landlord to provide a moving truck, boxes, or other equipment deemed necessary for the removal of Tenants' personal property. Time will be of the essence, and the Sheriff's office must be contacted at the scheduling of the eviction so that they are aware what type of eviction is being conducted.