The Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act includes provisions allowing landlords to accept rent after an eviction lawsuit and still preserve their rights to evict. This is called accepting rent with reservation in Virginia. It also has rules allowing tenants to take steps to fully dismiss an action for unlawful detainer by paying their rent. This is called redemption. Below is an outline of both.
Accepting Rent with Reservation in Virginia
In Virginia, if a tenant is in default of the law or the lease, a landlord can still accept rent after an eviction lawsuit under certain conditions. If a landlord gives notice, the landlord can accept full or partial payment and still receive an order of possession pursuant to an unlawful detainer action. Thus, if a landlord accepts payment and fails to give notice, the landlord likely cannot subsequently receive an eviction order.
The notice must be included in one of two communications. First, it can be in a a written termination notice for non-compliance with the rental agreement. Alternatively, it can come in the form of a separate written notice given by the landlord to the tenant within five business days of receipt of the rent.
The landlord must continue to give a separate written notice each time the landlord accepts rent until one of two things happens: (1) the violation alleged in the termination notice is remedied or (2) the issue is rule on in Court. In other words, if the violation continues or the Court has not ruled on the matter, the landlord still must give separate notice.
After a landlord gets an order of possession, the landlord can accept any rent, judgment, attorney’s fees, and court costs and still proceed with eviction provided the landlord has given the same written notice that the costs were accepted with reservation and without waiver of the right to evict. Thus, if a landlord has an order for possession and accepts rent without giving the proper notice, the order for possession is likely ineffective. If the landlord obtains an order of possession and then enters into a new lease agreement, the prior order is also not enforceable. Further, an eviction order must be executed within one year of the order being granted.
Tenant Redemption Cure
In an unlawful detainer action, if the tenant pays the landlord, his attorney, or the court all (1) rent owing, (2) other charges and fees in the contract, (3) late charges, (4) reasonable attorney’s fees, and (5) court costs, the unlawful detainer action will be dismissed. Historically, this payment had to be made prior to the first return. Now, the payment probably must be made before the Court holds a final hearing on the matter.
Once the payment is made, the matter must be dismissed. There is no special notice the tenant must give or confirmation from the landlord. Once the payment is complete, the cure right is exercised. A tenant can only exercise this right once per year.
If you are a landlord and need help navigating the eviction rules or deciding whether to accept rent after an eviction lawsuit in Virginia, we can help. If you are a tenant and want to protect your rights of redemption or rent with reservation in Virginia, we can ensure you are properly represented. Either way, we stand ready to help you in a situation involving your landlord/tenant issues in Virginia. Call for a consultation – 757-645-0827
Gregory S. Bean is a landlord/tenant attorney at Collins & Hyman, representing landlords and tenants in Virginia landlord/tenant litigation.
The material in this post is for informational purposes only, and readers should not utilize it as legal advice. In order to properly analyze the contents as related to your specific circumstances, a consultation would be necessary.