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Q:  We have a tenant who did not pay their rent this month or last month. We have filed an unlawful detainer with our first return date set for next week. Today, the tenant paid the rent for both months, but not the corresponding late fees. Can we still proceed with the unlawful detainer?

A:  Yes, in this situation the unlawful detainer may still proceed. The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA) defines “rent” as “all money…owed or paid to the landlord under the rental agreement….” In this case, late fees are owed to the landlord under the rental agreement, so those fees are treated as rent due to the landlord. Therefore, the right to redeem, i.e. the right of a residential tenant to halt unlawful detainer proceedings by becoming current on their rent, requires the tenant to pay all amounts due to the landlord, including late fees.

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