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,” says Attorney Rebecca Wade. “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. Wade offers guidance for landlords struggling during the coronavirus crisis.

Attorney Rebecca Wade is available for phone or video consultations. Please email rwade@oldtownlawyers.com to schedule a meeting.

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, explains Wade. 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 Rebecca Wade at rwade@oldtownlawyers.com.

About the Author

This is a photo of Rebecca Wade. She is a family law and criminal defense attorney at Old Town Lawyers.

Rebecca Janet Wade

Rebecca Wade is a partner at Wade Grimes Friedman Meinken & Leischner PLLC, practicing in all areas of family law and criminal law having experience with protective orders, divorce, child custody and visitation, child protective services investigations, juvenile delinquency, and criminal charges.

Wade has been named a 2023 Best Lawyer in America by U.S. News & World Report, a 2023 Super Lawyer in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C., and a 2020-2021 Top Lawyer by Northern Virginia Magazine.

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