May I evict my son-in-law from property I own for non-payment of rent?
As owner of a piece of property that others are living in, you may have been acting as a landlord to the occupants pursuant to a verbal lease agreement.
It may be possible to evict an occupant for non-payment of rent. In Virginia, a tenancy from month to month may be terminated by either party giving thirty days’ notice in writing, prior to the end of the month, of his intention to terminate the same.
The following is an excerpt from the Virginia statutes regarding lease termination:
Chap. 13, § 55-248.20 Tenant to surrender possession of dwelling unit.
At the termination of the term of tenancy, whether by expiration of the rental agreement or by reason of default by the tenant, the tenant shall promptly vacate the premises, removing all items of personal property and leaving the premises in good and clean order, reasonable wear and tear excepted. If the tenant fails to vacate, the landlord may bring an action for possession and damages, including reasonable attorney’s fees.
Chap. 13.2, § 55-248.31 Noncompliance with rental agreement.
Except as provided in this chapter, if there is a material noncompliance by the tenant with the rental agreement or a violation of § 55-248.16 materially affecting health and safety, the landlord may serve a written notice on the tenant specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach and stating that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than thirty days after receipt of the notice if the breach is not remedied in twenty-one days, and that the rental agreement shall terminate as provided in the notice. If the breach is remediable by repairs or the payment of damages or otherwise and the tenant adequately remedies the breach prior to the date specified in the notice, the rental agreement shall not terminate. If the tenant commits a breach which is not remediable, the landlord may serve a written notice on the tenant specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach and stating that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than thirty days after receipt of the notice. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained elsewhere in this chapter, when a breach of the tenant’s obligations under this chapter or the rental agreement involves or constitutes a criminal or a willful act, which is not remediable and which poses a threat to health or safety, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement immediately and proceed to obtain possession of the premises. The initial hearing on the landlord’s action for immediate possession of the premises shall be held within fifteen calendar days from the date of service on the tenant; however, the court shall order an earlier hearing when emergency conditions are alleged to exist upon the premises which constitute an immediate threat to the health or safety of the other tenants. After the initial hearing, if the matter is scheduled for a subsequent hearing or for a contested trial, the court, to the extent practicable, shall order that the matter be given priority on the court’s docket. Such subsequent hearing or contested trial shall be heard no later than thirty days from the date of service on the tenant. During the interim period between the date of the initial hearing and the date of any subsequent hearing or contested trial, the court may afford any further remedy or relief as is necessary to protect the interests of parties to the proceeding or the interests of any other tenant residing on the premises.
If the tenant has been served with a prior written notice which required the tenant to remedy a breach, and the tenant remedied such breach, where the tenant intentionally commits a subsequent breach of a like nature as the prior breach, the landlord may serve a written notice on the tenant specifying the acts and omissions constituting the subsequent breach, make reference to the prior breach of a like nature, and state that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than thirty days after receipt of the notice.
If rent is unpaid when due, and the tenant fails to pay rent within five days after written notice is served on him notifying the tenant of his nonpayment, and of the landlord’s intention to terminate the rental agreement if the rent is not paid within the five-day period, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement and proceed to obtain possession of the premises as provided in § 55-248.35. If a check for rent is delivered to the landlord drawn on an account with insufficient funds and the tenant fails to pay rent within five days after written notice is served on him notifying the tenant of his nonpayment and of the landlord’s intention to terminate the rental agreement if the rent is not paid by cash, cashier’s check or certified check within the five-day period, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement and proceed to obtain possession of the premises as provided in § 55-248.35. Except as provided in this chapter, the landlord may recover damages and obtain injunctive relief for any noncompliance by the tenant with the rental agreement or § 55-248.16. If the tenant’s noncompliance is willful, the landlord may recover reasonable attorney’s fees. Failure of the tenant either to pay the rent or to vacate the premises within five days after written notice of nonpayment given by the landlord shall be deemed willful noncompliance by the tenant, unless the failure to pay the rent or to vacate the premises is found by the court to be reasonable.
Chap. 13.2, § 55-248.35 Remedy after termination.
If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord may have a claim for possession and for rent and a separate claim for actual damages for breach of the rental agreement, reasonable attorney’s fees as provided in § 55-248.31, and the cost of service of any notice under § 55-225 or § 55-248.31 or process by a sheriff or private process server which cost shall not exceed the amount authorized by § 55-248.31:1, which claims may be enforced, without limitation, by the institution of an action for unlawful entry or detainer. Actual damages for breach of the rental agreement may include a claim for such rent as would have accrued until the expiration of the term thereof or until a tenancy pursuant to a new rental agreement commences, whichever first occurs; provided that nothing herein contained shall diminish the duty of the landlord to mitigate actual damages for breach of the rental agreement. In obtaining post-possession judgments for actual damages as defined herein, the landlord shall not be required to seek a judgment for accelerated rent through the end of the term of the tenancy.
In any unlawful detainer action brought by the landlord, this section shall not be construed to prevent the landlord from being granted by the court a simultaneous judgment for money due and for possession of the premises without a credit for any security deposit. Upon the tenant vacating the premises either voluntarily or by a writ of possession, security deposits shall be credited to the tenants’ account by the landlord in accordance with the requirements of § 55-248.15:1.