Landlord and Tenant Issues in Virginia…
WTDW Podcast | Episode 30: What To Do When… You Have Tenant Issues.
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WTDW Podcast | Episode 30: What To Do When… You Have Tenant Issues.
Welcome to What To Do When….A podcast from real lawyers with real perspective, where we explore a variety of legal issues and scenarios. Each week we focus on a new topic and discuss What to do When, and if any of these legal scenarios ever happened to you or a loved one. With over 40 years of combined legal experience, our hosts offer their unique perspectives and insights on a range of real life legal situations.
Scott Cardani 0:28
Hello, and welcome to another episode with Critzer Cardani. Here in Richmond, Virginia.
Will Smith 0:33
What’s what’s on the docket for today? Scott,
Scott Cardani 0:34
What To Do When… You have tenant issues. What’s a tenant Will?
Will Smith III 0:39
Yes Sir… A tenant is anybody that is staying at a lease property and is paying rent.
Scott Cardani 0:44
Okay, so if you’re both roommates, is that a tenant issue?
Will Smith III 0:49
It can be me, it certainly can be if you are both paying rent equally. But if you have issues with just your your roommate, and both of you are on a lease.
Scott Cardani 0:58
You’re just both roommates, right?
Will Smith III 1:00
Scott Cardani 1:00
So the lease, the tenant is the person paying the lease, right? That’s right, paying the rent. So we want to make it simple. Okay, so what do you want to tell us about why landlords and what they need to know.
Will Smith III 1:11
What landlords need to know is that if you have a tenant who is not paying rent, or who is breaking the terms of your lease, that you have certain steps that you have to take in order to have those tenants removed?
Scott Cardani 1:22
Okay, so let’s go through those steps. What are their steps? But before we do that, I just had a thought I think we need to ask it. So knowing what the lease says is pretty important, right?
Will Smith III 1:32
Scott Cardani 1:32
And having a good lease. I think I see this a lot in these kind of litigations where people grab a couple things off the internet, put them together hodgepodge, and that can be a real mess, won’t it, right?
Will Smith III 1:41
Absolutely, you see people going to LegalZoom, or just finding a template online, and then filling out the the address and the amount that’s paid. And then most of it isn’t even enforceable. But I’ve seen plenty of that.
Scott Cardani 1:52
I’ve seen actually provisions contradicting each other. And when they both contradict each other, they get thrown out. So you gotta be careful. Make sure you contact somebody to get a good lease, we’re here to help. But let’s talk about that. What how do you enforce it.
Will Smith III 2:04
So to enforce it, well, there should be a provision in your lease that if X, Y or Z is broken, that this is the remedy that the landlord has for the remedy that the tenant has if there’s something the landlord’s not doing, but that’s what we’re talking about today. Yeah. So if there’s something that the tenant is not doing, that they should be doing, I’ll just use the example of not paying rent, then the landlord in that lease will have a remedy. And so if they are following what the remedy is, all they have to do really is take that lease with them, when they go to the court to file satisfy the notice requirements.
Scott Cardani 2:35
What’s a notice requirement? What does that mean?
Will Smith III 2:36
Notice requirement, you really are going to send two different notices, or two notices are available a notice to pay or quit. So if somebody falls behind on rent hadn’t paid for a few months, you send them a notice, hey, you owe X number of dollars, I need to have it paid before the next rent payment is due. If not, I’m gonna file with the court to have you removed from the from the premises.
Scott Cardani 2:58
Will Smith III 2:59
The other option, an option that a lot of people, especially during this pandemic period, decided to exercise had to do with simply telling them look, after 30 days, I’m terminating your lease. You’ve had you violated these terms, I’m not worried about the money anymore. I’m terminating your lease for another reason that we have here. The other thing too, is that not everybody does have a lease, we have plenty of times where people just have a verbal agreement, verbal agreement, hey, you can come stay, and you can run out the back the back house and pay me $500 a month. And then when people fall behind on that, you have tenants who think that they don’t have to get kicked, they’re not going to get kicked out and then nothing’s going to happen.
Scott Cardani 3:40
But remember, in Virginia, folks, that verbal contract is still a contract, just like a verbal lease is still a lease. You know, when you get into detail provisions that might be a little harder to enforce. But as far as you’re going to pay me $500 To live in my basement for every month, and especially when they paid that $500 for four or five months, then that kind of proves that the terms of the contract.
Will Smith III 4:02
It can establish it based on the practices between the two people. So if you’ve so the first step then is to go ahead and send them a notice for why you were terminating their lease, okay. Typically, it’s going to be a 30 day period, it’s going to be 30 days or from the time that right before the next lease. Rent is due 30 day notice, if they’re notice if the rent has been paid, or if they haven’t left the premises, then the next step would be to go ahead and file with the court.
Scott Cardani 4:32
What do you file with the court?
Will Smith III 4:33
So you file with the court and unlawful detainer. Unlawful detainers basically setting out that we have a reason for why this tenant should be removed from the premises, whether it’s non payment of rent or some other reason. The courts will set a hearing for them to come and answer for this summons. And the judge will have evidence presented to him as to whether or not this 10 is going to be allowed to stay.
Scott Cardani 4:55
Alright, remember, think about things sometimes terms don’t work. But an unlawful detainer means you are, what we’re claiming is you’re holding under the holding end of this contract, you’re staying in the premises unlawfully. I want you to be removed. So that requires a judge to do that. And when the judge orders and you go to court and put on the evidence that he finds he gives the landlord possession, correct?
Will Smith III 5:18
Scott Cardani 5:19
So what usually happens, then at that point?
Will Smith III 5:23
Well, if the judge gives the landlord possession, it means that they have the ability to retake the property after a 10 day period.
Scott Cardani 5:30
Will Smith III 5:31
You can have a 10 day waiting period, because there’s a 10 day appeal process here in Virginia. So if the tenant decides to appeal, a lot of times, you’d have to put some money up, let’s say they haven’t paid $5,000, the judge is going to require them to pay a portion of that money towards the court anyway, to preserve the appeal. But they have that 10 day period. After 10 days, the landlord’s have the ability to enforce that judgment, enforce the position, regaining possession by filing a writ of eviction. And so the writ of eviction, then after that 10 day period, goes to the same court, the sheriff’s it’s then sent to the sheriff’s department for whatever county or city you’re in, and they go out and execute it. And we’ll give a seven to 72 hour notice to the tenant that if you know you’re still here in 72 hours, we’re planning to come in on this day, this time, and they’ll have them removed in the premises.
Scott Cardani 6:19
And you know, I don’t know if anybody’s done this. But you know, when you do it, it’s a pretty ugly process, especially if people aren’t leaving, sometimes you have to get hire movers to move the people’s possession into the street. And I’ve seen that happened. And you don’t want that to happen. landlords don’t want that to happen. But you got to take back property to you can’t have people live in for free and you have bills to pay. So this is important part. Will has been doing a lot of work in this and really building a really strong practice and helping landlords and we’re here to help you. So Will, what would you think would be our takeaways for today?
Will Smith III 6:51
Well, I think TAKEAWAY NUMBER ONE, and I guess we haven’t touched on this, but I would say TAKEAWAY NUMBER ONE is that if you are a landlord, and you are trying to get somebody removed from the property for non payment or rent or for some other reason, talk to a lawyer. I can’t tell you the times I sit in court and see landlords tried to do this themselves. And they waste their time they waste their money, they’re getting delayed, because they didn’t follow one of these steps. Okay. And so it sounds simple, right? It really is kind of an easy process and what it seems like, but you have judges especially nowadays that that want to do everything they can to try to help the tenants. You know, especially if somebody’s landlord goes in there unrepresented. Tenant goes in there unrepresented. The judge is not giving legal advice. But he’s kind of trying to help that tenant as much as he can. So the first thing I would say is reach out to a lawyer to see if this is something that you need help with, because most most chances, in most cases, it’s going to be number one, talk to a lawyer. Secondly, the notice requirement, I think is the biggest part, the notice requirement of sending a letter to that tenant, letting them know that you have 30 days, or whatever the period is 60, depends what the lease says look at the lease first. But 30 days is typical. When you’re trying to give them notice that after the 30 day period, if you haven’t complied with what I’ve told you, you violated most of the time non payment of rent, and I’m going to file with the court. So that piece of paper, that letter that goes to them is probably…
Scott Cardani 8:11
It’s just a letter, right?
Will Smith III 8:12
It’s just a letter.
Scott Cardani 8:13
Will Smith III 8:14
And then third, I would say that once you get to court, make sure that you know what you’re asking for. Because I think a lot of landlords come in and think it’s going to be really simple. And they don’t realize that it’s a little bit more than just saying, well judge, I want my money. Judge I want my property. So make sure that you again, I think talk to a lawyer, see if it’s something you’re gonna need help with. Chances are the lawyers only going to help make this process a lot easier for you. So those be the three things that I would say are probably the most important when it comes to landlord tenant, and mostly landlord rights.
Scott Cardani 8:47
All right – well, thank you. Thank you for joining us. Remember to subscribe and like and we appreciate you joining us on Critzer Cardani.
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