Evictions in the USVI
Ease of Eviction
The eviction process in the Virgin Islands is very straight forward. Once the tenant is served, but at least three days before the bench trial, the landlord may file a Forcible entry and detainer complaint with the Magistrate Division of the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands. The time varies between when the complaint is filed and when the case is actually heard. Barring an issue with service, most cases are heard within a month of filing. Similar to most civil proceedings, the most important aspect of the Forcible entry and detainer process is service. If the tenant is not served and, or the landlord lacks sufficient proof of service, the matter will not be heard. The tenant must be adequately served with notice before a Forcible entry and detainer action is heard.
Similarities between eviction process in the V.I. and mainland U.S.
Most jurisdictions in the United States mainland have enacted statutes to govern the relationship between landlord and tenant and, most specifically to provide landlords the ability to use a summary judicial proceeding to regain possession. Like the Virgin Islands, jurisdictions such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Missouri, require landlords to use a summary judicial proceeding to regain possession of a leased premises. This statutory action is called a different name in different states. For instance, in the Virgin Islands the statutory action is called an action for forcible entry and detainer. However, in states such as Alabama, Minnesota, Utah and Washington, the statutory action is referred to as an unlawful detainer action. In California, the eviction action is called an action for possession whereas it is referred to as a summary eviction action in Massachusetts, North Dakota and West Virginia. Regardless of how the action is styled, its main purpose is to afford landlords the opportunity to avail themselves of the court without resorting to force or violence to retake the leased premises. The Virgin Islands Forcible entry and detainer statute is of no exception.