The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an economic downturn. Renters are losing their jobs and landlords are being forced to make tough choices. This situation is exacerbated by the fact the courts are currently closed. There is a long backlog and it is hard to get into court to evict anyone.

Landlords are feeling the pressure from not receiving the rental income because they also have mortgage obligations to lenders and other financial commitments.

Even though the court is closed, landlords can still initiate an eviction proceeding by following these steps:

  1. Give the tenant a “5 Day Notice to Pay or Quit.” The notice will say how much rent they owe. If the tenant fails to pay within five days of the notice, this opens the path to filing for eviction.

  2. File an “Unlawful Detainer” with the General District Court. Although courts are not open, this will put your application in line to receive a hearing date once the courts open again.

  3. Wait for your hearing date. Once the courts reopen, they will have to work through their backlog of cases. The court will notify you once your hearing date is set.

Many landlords are deciding to renegotiate leases with their tenants. In Virginia, all leases and contracts are eligible for renegotiation if both parties agree to the terms and conditions. Landlords should take a few additional steps to ensure they are covered during any renegotiation of the lease.

Renegotiation Tips for Landlords:

  • Consult your lawyer to go over the renegotiation terms.

  • Ensure that any rent forgiveness is temporary and set a repayment schedule.

  • Once you have agreed to temporary changes to the lease, ensure all changes are in writing and consult your lawyer to review.

If you have any questions about initiating an eviction proceeding or renegotiation of a lease, please contact the attorneys at Friedman, Grimes, Meinken & Leischner PLLC.