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Junior Member
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? West Virginia

We rented a house to a friend on a rent-to-own agreement. No legal contract was drawn, it was done on a 'handshake' agreement.

Up until the last few months, he was always on time with his payments.

He left the state on 9/3/08, saying he was going to return in one month. He did not make a house payment for that month, and also owed us a partial payment for August. He has since had his wife to contact us and tell us he will not be returning. He left two dogs here, we had to make arrangements for someone to take them. He left all his utilities on and unpaid. He left all his belongings in the house and cannot afford to come to get them.

Even though our agreement was verbal, what steps can we take to evict him?


Junior Member
He is legally married but he and his wife have been living seperately for ten years. They were not in contact with each other until July of 2008. She was not around and was no part of the agreement we had with her husband.

What's the sitch with the wife? What was her part in the handshake agreement?
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Senior Member
Why don't you follow your State's laws and evict ?

Perhaps you should consult a Landlord/tenant or real estate attorney for a small fee .

You have no contract for rent to own .

Q: What law in Virginia addresses landlord-tenant issues?The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA), Sections 55-248.2 through 55-248.40 of the Code of Virginia, establishes the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants in the Commonwealth. Only the courts can enforce those rights and responsibilities.

Q: What is eviction?Eviction is the process by which a landlord obtains possession of the rental property by entering a law suit against the tenant and receiving judgment from the court directing the tenant to leave the property and pay back any rent, damage claims, and the costs of the court process. If your landlord is trying to evict you, you will be notified of this action and summoned to appear in court to address the charges. You should be prepared to offer a defense. Section 55-248.31 of the VRLTA outlines steps that must be taken by the landlord in the eviction process.

§55-248.33. Remedies for absence, nonuse and abandonment.

If the rental agreement requires the tenant to give notice to the landlord of an anticipatedextended absence in excess of seven days and the tenant fails to do so, the landlord mayrecover actual damages from the tenant. During any absence of the tenant in excess ofseven days, the landlord may enter the dwelling unit at times reasonably necessary toprotect his possessions and property. The rental agreement is deemed to be terminated by the landlord as of the date of abandonment by the tenant. If the landlord cannot determinewhether the premises have been abandoned by the tenant, the landlord shall serve writtennotice on the tenant in accordance with § 55-248.6 requiring the tenant to give written notice to the landlord within seven days that the tenant intends to remain in occupancy ofthe premises. If the tenant gives such written notice to the landlord, or if the landlordotherwise determines that the tenant remains in occupancy of the premises, the landlord shall not treat the premises as having been abandoned. Unless the landlord receiveswritten notice from the tenant or otherwise determines that the tenant remains in occupancy of the premises, upon the expiration of seven days from the date of thelandlord's notice to the tenant, there shall be rebuttable presumption that the premiseshave been abandoned by the tenant and the rental agreement shall be deemed to terminateon that date. The landlord shall mitigate damages in accordance with § 55-248.35.

§ 55-248.37. Periodic tenancy; holdover remedies.A. The landlord or the tenant may terminate a week-to-week tenancy by serving a writtennotice on the other at least seven days prior to the next rent due date. The landlord or thetenant may terminate a month-to-month tenancy by serving a written notice on the otherat least 30 days prior to the next rent due date.B. If the tenant remains in possession without the landlord's consent after expiration ofthe term of the rental agreement or its termination, the landlord may bring an action forpossession and may also recover actual damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and courtcosts, unless the tenant proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the failure of thetenant to vacate the dwelling unit as of the termination date was reasonable. The landlord may include in the rental agreement a liquidated damage penalty, not to exceed anamount equal to the per diem of the monthly rent, for each day the tenant remains in thedwelling unit after the termination date specified in the landlord's notice. If the landlord consents to the tenant's continued occupancy, § 55-248.7 applies
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Junior Member
Thanks, only I live in WEST Virginia, whole different state than Virginia.

Also, how long am I legally bound to keep his belongings? He can't afford to come to pick them up. Once he is formally evicted, we have another person interested in taking the house, and we would need to get his things out of there.
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Senior Member
37-6-6. Desertion of premises; entry; recovery of rent.

If any tenant from whom rent is in arrear and unpaid shall abandon the demised premises, and leave the
same uncultivated or unoccupied, without goods thereon subject to distress sufficient to satisfy such rent, the
lessor or his agent may post a notice in writing in a conspicuous part of the premises, requiring the tenant to
pay such rent within one month. If the same be not paid within that time, the lessor shall be entitled to
possession of the premises, and may enter thereon, and the right of such tenant thereto shall thenceforth be at
an end. But the landlord may recover the rent up to the time when he became entitled to the possession.

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