Virginia Poverty Law Center

Your Right to Pay and Stay

If your landlord starts a court case to evict you for unpaid rent, you can pay everything you owe and stay in your home. The right to pay and stay is called your ‘right of redemption.’

Who this applies to

Pay and stay only works if:

  • The eviction case is only because of unpaid rent, no other reason
  • You pay everything you owe the landlord, including:
    • Rent
    • Late fees
    • Damages
    • Court costs
    • Attorney fees
    • Sheriff fees, if the landlord has already paid to have the sheriff schedule your final eviction

Note: Check the court summons or ask your landlord for something in writing that shows how much you owe for damages, court costs, and attorney fees. It's always a good idea to ask your landlord for a copy of your tenant ledger, too.

Most people can use their right of redemption as often as they need to. But if your landlord owns four rental units or fewer, you may only be able to do this once per lease period.

Learn how to dispute the amount if you think your landlord is asking for more than you owe. 

How to pay

The law says you must pay using a cashier's check, certified check, or money order.

You can make the payment to your landlord or to the court. If you want to pay it to the court, call the court clerk’s office and ask them how to do it.

You can give your landlord or their attorney a letter or an email asking how much you owe. Then your landlord must give you a written statement with the exact amount you have to pay.

When to pay

You must pay at least 48 hours before the sheriff comes to evict you. But the sooner you pay, the better.

Before your first court date

If you pay before your first court date, the judge should throw out the case. Pay everything, including rent and fees that will be due by your court date. Bring proof of payment to your court date and tell the judge you paid everything you owe. 

At your first court date

At the first court date you can give the judge a letter from a government office or a charity showing they will pay everything within 10 days. It must be signed and on their official letterhead. If they pay within 10 days, the court will throw out the eviction case. If they do not, then after 10 days the landlord automatically wins the case.

After your first court date

If you pay after your first court date, your landlord can’t evict you but the court judgment stays on your record. You will still need to pay everything you owe, including rent and fees that have become due since your court date.

Keep in mind

  • Your landlord can still evict you if you only pay a partial amount.
  • The longer you wait, the more money you may need to pay.
  • If your landlord asked the court to evict you for reasons besides unpaid rent, paying may not stop your eviction.

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.