Virginia Landlord Disputes: Three Big Legal Changes

Are you interested in becoming a landlord or are you a landlord trying to stay updated on all the new laws in Virginia? There are several new laws that have been adopted by Virginia recently that you need to be aware of. These new laws may impact the terms of any leases you are currently using. As such, you may want to consider contacting a lawyer to help update your leases.

So what are these new laws, and what dangers to they represent?

Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act

Opt Out

Landlords that own less than five (5) investment properties used to be covered by a less strict version of the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act. However, new law in Virginia requires that these landlords specifically opt-out of the provisions of the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act. Failure to include specific opt-out language may result in your property being covered by the stricter rules that govern larger landlords.

This could result in significantly more overhead when it comes to maintaining your properties. Landlords that are covered by the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act have more duties to their tenants. Some of those duties include, but are not limited to, maintaining the property in better working order.

Eviction Waiting Requirements

Virginia has also modified the length of time it takes to get possession of your rental property from a non-paying tenant. Landlords used to be able to request “immediate possession.” By doing so, the court could allow a landlord to immediately take possession of the property for repairs.

The new law limits a landlord’s ability to take immediate possession. The new law requires an automatic ten (10) day waiting period before you can perform a lock-out. It is important to know about this change as it may impact your timeline for re-letting the property. This language may also impact any agreements you have with your prospective tenants.

Foreclosure Dangers

Another recent change to Virginia Landlord/Tenant law is that leases now automatically terminate upon a foreclosure. Therefore, if you own a rental property and are foreclosed upon, your tenant may be subject to a quick eviction within a short period of time. This can have serious economic hardships for the tenant. Therefore, it may be a good idea to seek legal advice on how to put language in your lease to protect yourself from economic harm resulting from a foreclosure.

Why you need a lawyer

If you invest in real estate it is a good idea to have a lawyer review your contracts on an annual basis. Laws are constantly changing, and a seemingly mundane change in the law can have serious impacts on your ability to make a living. Make sure you regularly consult your lawyer on issues related to your properties.