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Getting ahead can be difficult even in the best of times and
while renting real estate can be lucrative, when financial conditions leave a landlord without just rents, ending the rental relationship through eviction may be a landlord’s only option. When a tenant refuses to abide by a rental agreement or is otherwise unable to pay rent, a landlord may have little choice other than eviction, but before a landlord can demand possession he must provide a tenant with notice and provide them with an opportunity to remedy their default. In Virginia, the notice of default for nonpayment of rent is referred to as a 5-day pay or quit letter. In essence the landlord sends a letter to the tenant demanding that past due rent be paid in full within 5 days. The pay or quit letter also informs the tenant that a failure to pay within 5 days will result in the termination of the rental agreement. After the time has expired the landlord can file an unlawful detainer in the court and seek to regain possession of the property from the tenant. At common law a delinquent tenant was considered to be detaining the property unlawfully, thus the name unlawful detainer, but is more commonly referred to today as an eviction. Regaining possession of real estate is the ultimate goal of filing an unlawful detainer. Any delay will cause additional loss of rent to the landlord. With that in mind it is important to meet the required pay or quit notice requirement, as a failure to comply will cause an unlawful detainer to be denied by the court. In addition to possession, the landlord can sue for accrued damages, such as unpaid rent, late fees and attorney fees. The landlord can seek possession and judgment in the same pleading. Of course, once the tenant is out, and the totality of damages are known, the landlord can sue for the remaining unpaid rent due under the lease, damages to the property and attorney fees in a pleading referred to as a warrant in debt.
We represent both landlords and tenants in unlawful detainer actions. If you are in a situation where you need to evict someone or you are being evicted, timing is everything. Contact us today to discuss how we can assist you.