Shaking Up the Rental World: Virginia’s New Laws for Tenants and Landlords
We all have those age-old stories of our first apartment and more specifically stories about our Landlords. Of course, the inverse story is true too, Landlords will have stories of their own about particular tenants.
Regardless, Landlord and Tenant relations date back to the 17th century medieval times where the “feudal system” emerged. Born from the feudal system, were vassals -tenants- who rendered services to a lord -landlord- in exchange for the landlord giving protection, land to cultivate, harvest, and essentially live off of.
Centuries have passed and with time, changes are always on the horizon.
ON JULY 1, 2023, IT WAS TIME FOR SOME MAJOR SHAKE-UPS IN THE RENTAL WORLD OF VIRGINIA. THREE NEW LAWS TOOK EFFECT, BRINGING CHANGES THAT BOTH TENANTS AND LANDLORDS MUST KNOW. SO, LET’S DIVE IN AND SEE WHAT’S IN STORE!
FIRST UP, we have H.B. 1702, which affects landlords who own or have a stake in at least four rental units. Before a rent increase, a landlord must provide written notice to tenants who have the option to renew their lease or have an automatic renewal clause. The notice must be given at least 60 days before the current agreement ends. BTW this doesn’t apply to periodic tenancies under subsection C of § 55.1-1253.
- What does this mean for tenants? Well, it’s a win for clarity and planning. They can now prepare ahead, especially if there’s a possibility of a rent hike. But for landlords, it means stepping up their communication game and taking on more administrative tasks, especially if they have a larger portfolio of rentals.
NEXT, we have H.B. 2441, which requires owners of multi-family properties to give tenants written notice if they decide not to renew 20 or more month-to-month leases or 50% of such leases within a 30-day period. The notice must be delivered at least 60 days before the lease expires. However, if a tenant hasn’t been paying rent as agreed, this 60-day notice requirement doesn’t apply.
- What’s the implication for tenants? Well, it’s good news for those on month-to-month leases. They now have more time to get their ducks in a row if their lease isn’t renewed. On the flip side, landlords need to make their renewal or non-renewal decisions earlier and communicate them clearly.
FINALLY, WE HAVE H.B. 1635, which gives tenants the right to terminate their lease if their unit is uninhabitable at the beginning of the tenancy. If serious threats to life, health, or safety, such as rodent infestation or lack of basic utilities, are present, tenants can deliver a written termination notice within seven days of when they were supposed to move in. If the landlord doesn’t reject the termination for valid reasons within 15 business days, the tenant is entitled to a refund of all deposits and rent paid. landlords who refuse the termination may face legal action, with the winning party having the right to reasonable attorney fees.
- For tenants, this law is empowering! They can now walk away from a lease and get their money back if their new place is a disaster. However, it’s a gentle reminder for landlords to ensure their units meet health and safety standards before the lease begins.
So, there you have it, folks! These laws bring changes that aim to balance the needs and rights of both tenants and landlords in Virginia. It’s always interesting to see how things evolve over time, and these changes are just another reminder that the rental landscape is constantly evolving.
For more information, please contact Fox & Moghul.
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