Written by attorney Rixon Charles Rafter III

Paying and or Withholding Your Rent in Virginia

Always pay your rent even if your landlord is not keeping his or her part of the bargain.

You can pay your rent to the court instead of the landlord if you follow the procedures of the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act (VRLTA). For example, if your landlord won’t make needed repairs to your apartment, the VRLTA procedure is to:

Write the landlord a letter stating what problems you are having and what repairs are needed. (Keep copies!)

If nothing is done and you continue having problems, you should go to the General District Court and set up an escrow account in which you pay your rent to the court rather than to the landlord. The Court Clerk’s can tell you how to proceed. That way the landlord cannot take legal action against you for withholding your rent.

Before you pay your rent to the court, you must write a second letter to your landlord telling him/her the exact date you plan to pay rent to the District Court instead of the landlord.

You are required by law to give the landlord at least 21 days to make repairs before you open the escrow account, unless they are emergency repairs related to health and safety.

When you go to the court to pay your rent, you must take a copy of your lease and a copy of the letter you wrote asking for repairs.

You will be given a court date within 15 days and the judge will decide what to do with your rent money, and what repairs the landlord is required to make.

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