The Sheriff's Office eviction process is as follows:
- The landlord must initiate a five or 30 day pay or quit notice to the tenant, served by the Sheriff's Office or by a disinterested party over 18, or sent by Certificate of Mailing through the United States Postal Service (Note: this is not certified mail). Save the receipt and attach it to your copy of the notice. If you wish the Sheriff's Office to serve the notice, you must provide two copies: one to be served and one to be returned to you with the method of service noted. The charge is $12.00 per person served. The Sheriff's Office accepts VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit and debit cards. Money Orders are also accepted. The days can be counted from the date of service.
- After 5 or 30 days (depending on the notice), take your returned copy of the notice showing how it was served to the General District Court Civil Division and request an Unlawful Detainer be issued to the Sheriff's Office for service on the tenant. A Court date is set usually between 14 and 30 days from the date of issue.
- On the court date, if judgment is in the landlord's favor, a Writ of Possession will be issued to the Sheriff's Office for service. Typically 10 calendar days are allowed after the Court date to provide the tenant time to appeal. Even if the Judge grants immediate possession, it still takes some time for the paperwork to be processed by the clerk's office and received at the Sheriff's Office.
The Deputy Sheriff will schedule an eviction date/time with the landlord.
- The Deputy Sheriff will go to the residence and give the tenant at least 72 hours advance notice that he/she has a specified date and time to vacate the premises.
- The Deputy Sheriff will return to the residence on the agreed date and time.
- When the premises are vacant, the Deputy will grant official possession to the landlord.
- The landlord may elect to change the locks and give the tenant reasonable access to his or her personal property for a period of 24 hours. After 24 hours, any property not claimed by the tenant becomes the property of the landlord, and may be disposed of by the landlord as the landlord deems appropriate. The landlord has the option of setting the property to the nearest public right of way. Upon expiration of the 24 hour period after eviction, the landlord shall remove, or dispose of, any personal property remaining in the public right of way.
It is recommended that owners of rental property obtain a copy of the applicable law (for most landlords Virginia Code 55-248.2).