Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 8.01. Civil Remedies and Procedure
3/18/2019

Article 13. Unlawful Entry and Detainer.

§ 8.01-124. Motion for judgment in circuit court for unlawful entry or detainer.

If any forcible or unlawful entry be made upon lands, or if, when the entry is lawful and peaceable, the tenant shall detain the possession of land after the right has expired, without the consent of him who is entitled to the possession, the party so turned out of possession, no matter what right of title he had thereto, or the party against whom such possession is unlawfully detained may file a motion for judgment in the circuit court alleging that the defendant is in possession and unlawfully withholds from the plaintiff the premises in question.

Code 1950, § 8-789; 1954, c. 549; 1975, c. 235; 1977, c. 617.

§ 8.01-125. When summons returnable to circuit court; jury.

When the action is commenced in the circuit court, the summons is returnable thereto and, upon application of either party trial by jury shall be had.

Code 1950, § 8-792; 1954, c. 333; 1970, c. 272; 1977, c. 617.

§ 8.01-126. Summons for unlawful detainer issued by magistrate or clerk or judge of a general district court.

A. In any case when possession of any house, land or tenement is unlawfully detained by the person in possession thereof, the landlord, his agent, attorney, or other person, entitled to the possession may present to a magistrate or a clerk or judge of a general district court a statement under oath of the facts which authorize the removal of the tenant or other person in possession, describing such premises; and thereupon such magistrate, clerk or judge shall issue his summons against the person or persons named in such affidavit. The process issued upon any such summons issued by a magistrate, clerk or judge may be served as provided in § 8.01-293, 8.01-296, or 8.01-299. When issued by a magistrate it may be returned to and the case heard and determined by the judge of a general district court. If the summons for unlawful detainer is filed to terminate a tenancy pursuant to the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (§ 55-248.2 et seq.), the initial hearing on such summons shall occur as soon as practicable, but not more than 21 days from the date of filing. If the case cannot be heard within 21 days from the date of filing, the initial hearing shall be held as soon as practicable. If the plaintiff requests that the initial hearing be set on a date later than 21 days from the date of filing, the initial hearing shall be set on a date the plaintiff is available that is also available for the court. Such summons shall be served at least 10 days before the return day thereof.

B. Notwithstanding any other rule of court or provision of law to the contrary, the plaintiff in an unlawful detainer case may submit into evidence a photocopy of a properly executed paper document or paper printout of an electronically stored document including a copy of the original lease or other documents, provided that the plaintiff provides an affidavit or sworn testimony that the copy of such document is a true and accurate copy of the original lease. An attorney or agent of the landlord or managing agent may present such affidavit into evidence.

C. 1. Notwithstanding any other rule of court or provision of law to the contrary, when the defendant does not make an appearance in court, the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney or agent may submit into evidence by an affidavit or sworn testimony a statement of the amount of outstanding rent, late charges, attorney fees, and any other charges or damages due as of the date of the hearing. The plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney or agent shall advise the court of any payments by the defendant that result in a variance reducing the amount due the plaintiff as of the day of the hearing.

2. If the unlawful detainer summons served upon the defendant requests judgment for all amounts due as of the date of the hearing, the court shall permit amendment of the amount requested on the summons for unlawful detainer filed in court in accordance with the evidence and in accordance with the amounts contracted for in the rental agreement and shall enter a judgment for such amount due as of the date of the hearing in addition to entering an order of possession for the premises.

3. In determining the amount due the plaintiff as of the date of the hearing, if the rental agreement or lease provides that rent is due and payable on the first of the month in advance for the entire month, at the request of the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney or agent, the amount due as of the date of the hearing shall include the rent due for the entire month in which the hearing is held, and rent shall not be prorated as of the actual court date. Otherwise, the rent shall be prorated as of the date of the hearing. However, nothing herein shall be construed to permit a landlord to collect rent in excess of the amount stated in such rental agreement or lease. If a money judgment has been granted for the amount due for the month of the hearing pursuant to this section and the landlord re-rents such dwelling unit and receives rent from a new tenant prior to the end of such month, the landlord is required to reflect the applicable portion of the judgment as satisfied pursuant to § 16.1-94.01.

4. If, on the date of a foreclosure sale of a single-family residential dwelling unit, the former owner remains in possession of such dwelling unit, such former owner becomes a tenant at sufferance. Such tenancy may be terminated by a written termination notice from the successor owner given to such tenant at least three days prior to the effective date of termination. Upon the expiration of the three-day period, the successor owner may file an unlawful detainer under this section. Such tenant shall be responsible for payment of fair market rental from the date of such foreclosure until the date the tenant vacates the dwelling unit, as well as damages, and for payment of reasonable attorney fees and court costs.

Code 1950, § 8-791; 1954, c. 333; 1966, c. 436; 1968, c. 639; 1972, c. 397; 1975, c. 235; 1977, c. 617; 1978, c. 344; 1980, c. 502; 2000, c. 1055; 2008, cc. 551, 691; 2012, c. 788; 2013, c. 63; 2014, c. 168; 2015, c. 547; 2017, c. 481; 2018, c. 255.

§ 8.01-127. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2007, c. 869, cl. 2.

§ 8.01-128. Verdict and judgment; damages.

A. If it appears that the plaintiff was forcibly or unlawfully turned out of possession, or that it was unlawfully detained from him, the verdict or judgment shall be for the plaintiff for the premises, or such part thereof as may be found to have been so held or detained. The verdict or judgment shall also be for such damages as the plaintiff may prove to have been sustained by him by reason of such forcible or unlawful entry, or unlawful detention, of such premises, and such rent as he may prove to have been owing to him.

B. The plaintiff may, alternatively, receive a final, appealable judgment for possession of the property unlawfully entered or unlawfully detained and be issued a writ of possession at the initial hearing on a summons for unlawful detainer, upon evidence presented by the plaintiff to the court. At the initial hearing, upon request of the plaintiff, the court shall bifurcate the unlawful detainer case and set a continuance date no later than 120 days from the date of the initial hearing to determine final rent and damages. On such continuance date, the court shall permit amendment of the amount requested on the summons for unlawful detainer filed in court in accordance with the (i) notice of hearing to establish final rent and damages mailed to the last known address of the defendant and filed with the court at least 15 days prior to the continuance date as provided herein, (ii) evidence presented to the court, and (iii) amounts contracted for in the rental agreement. Nothing in this subsection shall preclude a defendant who appears in court at the initial court date from contesting an unlawful detainer action as otherwise provided by law.

If under this section an appeal is taken as to possession, the entire case shall be considered appealed. The plaintiff shall, in the instance of a continuance taken under this section, mail to the defendant at the defendant's last known address at least 15 days prior to the continuance date a notice advising (a) of the continuance date, (b) of the amounts of final rent and damages, and (c) that the plaintiff is seeking judgment for additional sums. A copy of such notice shall be filed with the court.

C. No verdict or judgment rendered under this section shall bar any separate concurrent or future action for any such damages or rent as may not be so claimed.

Code 1950, § 8-793; 1954, c. 609; 1977, c. 617; 2005, c. 779; 2010, c. 550; 2011, c. 76; 2016, c. 281; 2017, c. 481.

§ 8.01-129. Appeal from judgment of general district court.

A. An appeal shall lie from the judgment of a general district court, in any proceeding under this article, to the circuit court in the same manner and with like effect and upon like security as appeals taken under the provisions of § 16.1-106 et seq. except as specifically provided in this section. The appeal shall be taken within 10 days and the security approved by the court from which the appeal is taken. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 16.1-106 et seq., the bond shall be posted and the writ tax paid within 10 days of the date of the judgment.

B. In any unlawful detainer case filed under § 8.01-126, if a judge grants the plaintiff a judgment for possession of the premises, upon request of the plaintiff, the judge shall further order that the writ issue immediately upon entry of judgment for possession. In such case, the clerk shall deliver the writ to the sheriff, who shall then, at least 72 hours prior to execution of such writ, serve notice of intent to execute the writ, including the date and time of eviction, as provided in § 8.01-470. In no case, however, shall the sheriff evict the defendant from the dwelling unit prior to the expiration of the defendant's 10-day appeal period. If the defendant perfects an appeal, the sheriff shall return the writ to the clerk who issued it.

When the appeal is taken by the defendant, he shall be required to give security also for all rent which has accrued and may accrue upon the premises, but for not more than one year's rent, and also for all damages that have accrued or may accrue from the unlawful use and occupation of the premises for a period not exceeding three months. Trial by jury shall be had upon application of any party.

Code 1950, § 8-794; 1950, p. 68; 1977, c. 617; 1984, c. 565; 1998, c. 750; 2004, c. 343; 2008, c. 489; 2017, c. 481; 2018, c. 145.

§ 8.01-130. Judgment not to bar action of trespass, ejectment, or unlawful detainer.

No judgment in an action brought under the provisions of this article shall bar any action of trespass, ejectment, or unlawful detainer between the same parties, nor shall any such judgment or verdict be conclusive, in any such future action, of the facts therein found.

Code 1950, § 8-795; 1977, c. 617; 2018, c. 255.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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