A late rent payment does not necessarily protect a tenant who has breached a lease from losing their home. In Virginia, a landlord who has entered into the eviction process may receive full or partial payment for past due rent and any applicable fees—and decide to proceed with eviction regardless. To do so, however, the landlord must notify the tenant within five days of receipt that the payment would be “accepted with reservation” and does not constitute a waiver of the landlord’s right to evict the tenant from the dwelling unit.
This notice is commonly known as a notice of reservation, and until recently, it was the subject of some legal uncertainty. Under the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act (VRLTA), landlords needed to provide a notice of reservation not just once, but twice between the entry of an order of possession and eviction, as well as each and every time they accepted a payment.
A new law, among the many passed in Virginia earlier this year, simplifies notice of reservation requirements for landlords. Effective July 1, 2018, Virginia Code Section 55-248.34:1 has been amended to require a landlord to issue a notice of reservation once and only once to preserve the right to execute an eviction.
The law states that a “landlord may accept full or partial payment of all rent and receive an order of possession” and thereafter still “proceed with eviction” so long as “the landlord has stated in a written notice to the tenant that any and all amounts owed… would be accepted with reservation and would not constitute a waiver of the termination notice given by the landlord to the tenant.” The law further states that if the first notice fulfills the requirement, “nothing herein shall be construed by a court of law or otherwise as requiring such landlord to give the tenant subsequent written notice.”
You can read the full text of § 55-248.34:1 here.
Given the easier rent with reservation notice requirements, it is safe to assume that judges in Virginia will hold landlords to an even higher standard of compliance. The attorneys of Offit Kurman’s Landlord Representation group suggest that landlords seeking to enforce their rights use language that mimics the above as closely as possible in all related notices and forms, including 5-day notices for nonpayment.
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