A well written, Virginia-specific, lease is essential to successful landlord-tenant relations. Disputes commonly arise because of either party’s failure to abide by the lease. Following are five frequently asked questions:
1. I moved out of my leased apartment more than 30 days ago, but the landlord has not refunded my security deposit yet. What can I do?
Most leases require the landlord to refund the security deposit to the tenant within 30, 45, or 60 days after the end of the lease period. If the tenant caused damage to the leased property, the landlord may be allowed to use some or all of the security deposit to pay for repairs. In such cases, the landlord must notify the tenant of the cost for such repairs. If the landlord has not refunded your security deposit or provided you with a repair list, you may be able to resolve the issue by writing the landlord a letter demanding the refund.
2. My landlord evicted me without notice. Can he do that?
Under Virginia law you are considered a "tenant at sufferance" if you do not have a lease and do not pay rent. This means that you can be evicted for any reason at all, at any time, and no particular notice needs to be given to you. The person who is letting you live there also may not have to take you to court to evict you, and may have you removed (or change locks) at any time.
3. Is my landlord required to make repairs?
Under Virginia law, unless properly agreed to otherwise, all landlords must do the following:
a. Follow building and housing codes affecting health and safety.
b. Make all repairs needed to keep the place fit and habitable.
c. Keep in good and safe working order all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and other facilities and appliances that the landlord supplies.
d. Prevent or remove rodent infestations.
e. Landlords covered by the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act must also keep clean and safe any common areas used by more than one tenant.
4. As a tenant, what am I required to do?
Under Virginia law, all tenants must do the following:
a. Keep your rented space and plumbing as clean and safe as conditions permit.
b. Use all utilities and appliances reasonably.
c. Get rid of trash.
d. Do not damage the property, or allow household members or guests to do so.
e. Do not disturb your neighbors, or allow household members or guests to do so.
f. Follow the lease and reasonable rules of your landlord.
Please let us know if you have questions or suggestions for other good tips. Thanks.