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What is an Unlawful Detainer?

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Most people have either lived in an apartment or rented it out as a landlord. Most rental scenarios go off without a hitch, while other prove more difficult. Landlords may experience disruptive tenants, damage to the rental unit, and late or unpaid rent. These issues have come to the forefront even more in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are a landlord who has to engage in the unpleasant process of tenant eviction, the law does provide a specific action to protect your interests – an unlawful detainer.

Virginia law defines an unlawful detainer as an action against someone who lawfully took possession of real property, but whose right to lawful possession has since expired. Parrish v. Nat’l Federal Mortgage Ass’n., 292 Va. 44 (2016). If a plaintiff is successful in an unlawful detainer action, he or she will take possession of the real property again. Possession simply means, the right to dwell in, exercise control over, or possess real property. Often times in unlawful detainer actions, plaintiffs will also seek damages (i.e. unpaid rent, late fees, or other expenses).

Need help navigating the unlawful detainer process? Our attorneys are experienced in landlord/tenant litigation and are here to fight for you in court. Give our office a call today!