Virginia Poverty Law Center

Understanding an Unpaid Rent Notice

If your rent is late, your landlord will give you a letter telling you to pay what you owe. It will say that if you do not pay soon, your landlord might start the eviction process in court.

What is the notice called?

This does not have a legal name. It might be called one of these things:

  • 5-Day Pay or Quit
  • Notice of Default
  • Notice of Noncompliance
  • Notice of Nonpayment

What does it mean?

It means that your rent is late and if you don’t pay within a certain time, your landlord will end the lease and file an eviction case in court.

What’s in the notice?

An unpaid rent notice includes basic information about your situation.

  1. The amount of money you owe the landlord.
  2. How long you have to pay before the landlord can start a court case to evict you.
  3. Many of these notices tell you that your landlord can still evict if you only pay part of what you owe.

If you are in public housing, it must include the name, address, and phone number of the local legal aid program. If you pay rent with a Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher, it must include the statewide legal aid phone number and website.

Sample notice

A blank example of a 5-Day Pay or Quit or Unpaid Rent Notice.

Keep in mind

  • Even after the deadline in the notice is up, your landlord can’t just force you out. They have to go through the court process and get the sheriff involved. See all the steps in that process.
  • Go to Fight my eviction to learn how you can respond to a landlord's unpaid rent notice. 

You may want to talk to a lawyer for specific advice. Contact your local Legal Aid office to see if you qualify for free help.

Take action

Learn what you can do to try to stay in your home and avoid eviction.

Fight my eviction

Sometimes, you can't avoid eviction if your landlord wants you out. But it is always good to learn how the law can protect you and what you can do about your situation.