Eviction Defense Lawyer in Richmond
Representing Richmond Tenants Who Are Facing Eviction
Are you at risk of eviction? Don’t panic, as you may have options. Although your landlord may threaten, intimidate, or harass you if you are behind on rent, an attorney can be a significant solution to your burdens. Times get tough, especially in the world we currently live in, but that doesn’t mean you should lose your home as a result. Legal options may be available for your particular situation, and we can help you leverage them to help you achieve a favorable outcome.
Keep in mind that in Virginia, a landlord may only evict a tenant for the following reasons:
- Nonpayment of rent
- Violation of the applicable building and housing code caused by a lack of reasonable care by the tenant, a member of the tenant’s household, or a guest or invitee of the tenant
- Violation of a federal, state, or local law or ordinance that is detrimental to the health, safety, and welfare of other tenants in the manufactured home park
- Violation of any rule or provisions of the rental agreement materially affecting the health, safety, and welfare of the tenant or others
- Two or more violations of any rule or provision of the rental agreement occurring within six months
Past and current landlords can take you to court for back rent or damages, hurting your ability to get a new lease. Past landlords may even utilize collection attempts, which is a headache in and of itself. If you are facing eviction or other concerns in Virginia, get in touch with our Richmond eviction defense attorney online or at (804) 315-0810. Flores Law PLLC can help stop evictions and find ways to help you repay your rent within your means!
How the Eviction Process Works in Virginia
The eviction process can be overwhelming and confusing, especially without legal counsel in your corner. It doesn’t help when landlords worsen the situation through fear tactics in order to achieve their bottom line. With this in mind, it will help to have an understanding of what the eviction process looks like in Virginia so you can prepare for the path ahead. We summarize the steps below:
- Notice of Default or Termination: Before filing in court, your landlord must notify you in writing of your lease termination. The notice typically gives a 5-day or 30-day warning for unpaid rent.
- Summons for Unlawful Detainer: You will receive a Summons when your landlord sues you, which will include the date, time, and location for your first hearing in court.
- Court Date: If you want to fight your case, you must go to court unless the Summons was for unpaid rent. In some cases, you may be able to resolve the unpaid rent by the court date and avoid a judgment.
- Judgment for Possession: If a judge rules in favor of the landlord, the landlord will get what’s called a “judgment for possession,” which allows the landlord to take further steps to evict you.
- Appeal Period: You have 10 days to appeal your judgment, so should you choose to do so, you must file the appeal papers and pay rent to the court in an amount o be set by the judge.
- Writ of Eviction: Once you get a judgment for possession, the landlord will ask the court for a “writ of eviction,” which orders the sheriff to schedule the eviction.
- Eviction Notice: The sheriff will give you a copy of the writ of eviction and notify you of the date and time they will return to evict you, which typically occurs at least 72 hours in advance.
- Extended Redemption: You may potentially have the right to pay everything you owe and avoid eviction up until 2 business days before the scheduled eviction.
- Eviction by Sheriff: Unless it gets canceled, you will be physically evicted by the sheriff, and they will change your locks.
What Happens If I am Evicted without a Court Order & Sheriff’s Notice?
Far too many tenants experience backlash from their landlords due to their inability to pay rent. This retaliation can include cutting off utilities, locking tenants out of their homes, or evicting tenants without notice and going to court. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to move out just because your landlord said so or because they file a lawsuit against you. The only way you are legally required to leave is if your landlord wins in court and then files for the local police department to evict you.
That being said, if your landlord retaliated against you in the ways mentioned above, you can file a lawsuit called a “Tenant’s Petition for Relief from Unlawful Exclusion” against your landlord with the help of an attorney. The process looks something like this:
- Step 1: The process begins when you and/or your lawyer goes to the General District Court in the city or county where your home is located and files a lawsuit called a “Tenant’s Petition for Relief from Unlawful Exclusion (Form DC-431).
- Step 2: When filling out the form, make sure to fill in the name and physical address of the owner of the property as the Defendant-Landlord.
- Step 3: To get the case filed ad have a police officer serve the lawsuit notice on your landlord, you must pay a fee of about $58, which may vary from county to county.
- Step 4: The court will then set a hearing date.
- Step 5: To prepare for your case, you and your lawyer need to gather evidence and practice the arguments that you want to present to the judge.
- Step 6: At your hearing, your attorney will present your evidence first, and the judge or landlord may ask questions. Next, the landlord presents their evidence and witnesses. You may question them afterward but in a non-confrontational way. If both you and your landlord physically attend the hearing, the judge will make a decision after hearing both sides.
Potential Tenant Defenses to Eviction in Virginia
It may not seem like it at first, but you are not completely doomed. When you hire a lawyer, they can review your situation and background before determining the best possible defense strategy on your behalf. Private, public, and subsidized housing tenants may protect themselves from eviction using defenses such as:
Poor premises conditions: If the tenant or appropriate agency notified the landlord (in writing) of a premises condition and the landlord refused to correct the conditions despite having a reasonable opportunity to do so, the tenant may successfully argue that poor housing conditions resulted in the nonpayment of rent.
Failure to recertify: If the landlord failed to promptly recertify a tenant after they notified the landlord of a decrease in income or increase in deductions, the tenant may avoid eviction.
Innocent late receipt of income: Although repeated late payments may be grounds for eviction, the tenant may avoid eviction if their late payments were caused by the innocent late receipt of income, meaning they sincerely did not intend to pay their rent late but rather received their income later than expected.
Failure to address foreseeable criminal conduct: A public housing agency or subsidized housing landlord may evict an entire family for criminal or severely disruptive acts ONLY if the tenant knew or should have reasonably known that such conduct was occurring or might occur AND failed to do everything within their power to stop it. On that note, a tenant may avoid eviction if they can prove that they didn’t invite the wrongdoer onto the premises.
Improper termination of tenant’s subsidy: If the landlord failed to receive the government portion of the tenant’s rent due to the landlord’s improper termination of the tenant’s subsidy, the tenant may utilize this error to their advantage.
These are some examples of defenses that may work in your favor. To maximize your chances of avoiding eviction, however, you need to hire an experienced and diligent lawyer right away. Our Richmond eviction defense attorney proudly represents tenants who are at risk of getting kicked out of their homes, working tirelessly to help them keep a roof over their heads and have peace of mind.
To discuss your situation with us, reach out online or at (804) 315-0810 and schedule a free phone consultation!
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