Eviction Basics - Part 2

Recognizing illegal eviction practices can protect tenants' rights.


Mark T. Stewart, Esq.

3/25/20241 min read

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In Virginia, certain actions by landlords are against the law.

"Self-Help" Evictions:
No matter what's going on, a landlord can't force a tenant out by:
- Changing the locks.
- Turning off utilities.
- Taking away the tenant's stuff.

If the landlord is found guilty of doing such things, they might have to pay the tenant for any actual harm caused, along with at least $5,000 or four months' rent (whichever is more), and reasonable lawyer fees. The only legal way to remove a tenant is by getting a court order through the official eviction process.

Retaliatory Evictions:
It's illegal for a landlord to kick out a tenant for exercising their rights, such as:
- Complaining about a building code violation to the landlord or authorities.
- Reporting a problem to the government.
- Joining a tenant group.
- Testifying against the landlord in court.

If the landlord is found at fault, they might have to pay the tenant for any harm done.

Note: This post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Individuals should consult with a qualified attorney for legal guidance specific to their situation.