Virginia Landlord Disputes: The Tenant's Assertion

Are you renting from a landlord? If so, you have rights that you need to be aware of. Virginia law protects renters from some of your landlord’s unfair actions. If you are the victim of an overly aggressive landlord, you need to be aware of how to protect yourself.

So what does Virginia law say about landlords, and what do you need to do if you have a dispute with your landlord?

What Virginia Law Applies?

There are two different laws related to Landlords and Tenants. The one that applies to your particular case depends on several factors including a) how many rental properties your landlord has and b) the terms of your lease. If you have a large business as your landlord, they are likely covered by the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act. If you have a small family as your landlord that only has one rental, then you have fewer protections.

What are some common issues with your landlords?

Tenants can have any number of disputes with their landlord. Some common examples include mold, malfunctioning appliances, withholding security deposits, unlawful evictions, nosey landlords entering the rental without notice and refusal to fix certain problems with the property. Some of these issues are more serious than others, and the law has more protections for issues such as mold than it does for issues such as nosey landlords. For example, when dealing with visible mold, the Landlord has only five (5) days to fix the mold upon written notice.

What to do if you have a dispute with your landlord?

Under no circumstances should you refuse to pay rent to your landlord. Virginia law does not allow you to withhold rent. If your landlord isn’t doing what they are supposed to, you have to file what is known as a “Tenant’s Assertion” with your local court and send certain notices to your landlord notifying them of the problem. You will also likely have to pay your rent into court for at least one month. If you lose your case, your rent will be handed to the landlord. If you win your case, the landlord will be required to do whatever they were supposed to.

Why do you need a lawyer?

The tenant’s assertion process and deciding what notices need to be sent can be rather complicated, and there are deadlines to file these documents. If the landlord has filed for eviction, it makes it all the more urgent that you need to have a lawyer help you file the documentation at the appropriate time. If you fail to file what you are supposed to, the judge cannot consider your arguments. You should contact a local real estate attorney to discuss your rights when faced with an aggressive or negligent landlord. If you cannot afford to hire that attorney, there are several legal aid services throughout the state of Virginia to help you.