Failure to Pay Rent When Due: 5-Day Pay or Quit Notice

Chances are, if you own a rental property, you’ll have to hire an attorney to help you evict a tenant who doesn’t pay rent or pays rent late. Most likely, you’ll charge your tenant a late fee for paying rent late but will not file suit against your tenant unless he/she is habitually late with rent. Similarly, if you’re a tenant, you’ve probably encountered a situation where you’ve paid rent after the payment was due and had to pay a late fee. As a tenant, you may also face a situation where you’ve paid your rent on time, but your landlord claims you didn’t pay it when it was actually due.

Landlords’ Remedies Against Tenants Who Don’t Pay Rent on Time

You can choose to hold your tenant in breach of the rental contract or lease. According to the Virginia Code and Virginia landlord and tenant laws, you can require an immediate payment of past-due rent, late fees, interest and legal costs as soon as the day after the rent was originally due. Known as a “5-Day Pay or Quit Notice,” you’ll need to hire a real estate attorney or learn how to draft this written notice yourself.

What Should a 5-Day Notice to Pay or Quit Include?

A 5-Day Pay or Quit Notice must be in writing and sent by certified mail or formally served by the Sheriff’s Office in your county or city. Your notice must be addressed to each tenant residing at your rental property, the amount due that includes rent, late charges and other fees, including legal fees, the date of the notice and when rent is due (five days from notice) and how your tenant must remit the payment. After five days, you can proceed with evicting your tenant by filing an Unlawful Detainer in a local Virginia General District Court.

Tenants’ Remedies When Landlords Issue the 5-Day Notice

If you receive this notice from your landlord, you need to make sure you pay all of the rent you owe, including late fees and any other fees included in the 5-Day Notice or you will face an eviction. If your landlord decides to evict you, you can voluntarily leave or “quit” your premises (rental property) before a Sheriff escorts you out. Your landlord can never resort to self-help remedies by forcibly removing you or your belongings. You can also exercise a right-of-redemption by tendering all of the rent currently due and any other fees assessed, but Virginia law only allows this right of redemption once per year.

Contact Us Today

If you’re looking for a real estate attorney with experience in landlord and tenant disputes, contact Keithley Law, PLLC today by calling (703) 454-5147 and schedule an initial consultation in our Fairfax law office.

Legal Disclaimer: Do not rely on this site for legal advice. The information provided on “” is strictly for educational purposes and to provide you with general educational information about Virginia laws. Since state laws are subject to change, please schedule an appointment with our office to further discuss your personal situation. This public information is neither intended to, nor will, create an attorney-client relationship.