The eviction process: tenant and landlord rights

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - An elderly lady says she paid her rent on time, so why is the landlord putting her out? Can he legally evict her, just because it's his property?

Your power and protection are in the lease - for both the tenant and the landlord. Reading and understanding what's written in the lease, and what you agreed to by signing, is first and foremost.

It's an odd situation. Virginia Cannon Golding really wants to move, but says she can't afford to go.

"I really don't. I'm only wanting to stay because the rent is $475 a month," said Golding.

The landlord, who has accepted her monthly rent payments for nearly two years, wants her out, and he hasn't given her a good reason except he can.

"Putting me out to put somebody else in, and I haven't done anything. I asked him, 'are you putting me out because of the cats?' He said no. I said, 'what have W done wrong for you to put me out?' He said, 'you haven't done anything. I want you out because I rerented it.'"

It appears the property owner gave Golding a 5-day pay-or-quit notice, which is the first step to legally evicting a tenant. She became confused by other notices that followed and then a letter he delivered to her Monday.

"'You will have a judgement on you for April and May's rent, plus court costs, and I will sue for damages to the apartment. Better for both of us that you go ahead and move.' He says he's the owner. He said he can do what he wants to do with his apartment," said Golding.

Martin Wegbreit of the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society says the landlord is right, if he follows the law. He owns the property, but a tenant doesn't have to leave until a court orders them to.

The eviction process can take anywhere from a month to two months. First, the landlord must send the tenant a 5-day pay-or-quit notice. The landlord must wait the proper notice period.

Then, the landlord goes to court and files for an unlawful detainer or judgement for possession. The court then grants a order requiring the tenant to leave.

Eviction must be carried out by a sheriff. The landlord can not legally remove a tenant's possessions.

I reached out to the landlord, but he has not returned my calls. Golding can leave at the end of the month like the landlord wants, or she can wait him out for additional time as the eviction process goes through the court.

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