Virginia State Law: Month to Month Lease

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The Commonwealth of Virginia allows landlords and their tenants to enter into written and oral lease agreements. Month-to-month tenants and their landlords must comply with the Virginia Landlord and Tenant Act, and landlords have legal duties to all of their tenants, regardless of the duration of their lease agreements, to provide safe and habitable housing.

Security Deposits

Virginia allows landlords to collect security deposits limited to two months of rent. Landlords have 45 days after each tenant vacates their property to return unused security deposits, and if they deduct fees to cover damages, they must send their tenants a written itemization of those fees and damage charges within 45 days. Virginia law allows landlords to deduct fees from security deposits to cover unpaid utility bills, but must provide their tenants with written itemization of those deductions within 10 days after their tenants vacate their property. Landlords must keep their tenants’ security deposits in interest-bearing accounts if they hold their deposits for longer than 13 months beginning from the date of tenancy. Their interest-bearing accounts must yield interest at four points below the Federal Reserve Board’s established rate as of January 1, annually.

Terminating Tenancies

To terminate a monthly tenancy, either landlord or tenant must provide at least a 30-day written notice of termination before the next rent payment is due. Landlords have legal rights to request actual damage awards, reasonable attorneys’ fees and legal court costs if their tenants do not move out after their leases end or after the effective date of termination by filing a suit for failure to vacate or holdover dispossessory motion in court. Landlords may also include liquidated damage penalties limited to 150 percent of the monthly rental fee in their rental agreements.

Rental Increases

Landlords may increase a monthly tenant’s rent by providing them with at least 30 days notice, in writing, of the rental increase. Tenants have rights to object to the increase by providing their landlords with notice to terminate their tenancies, in writing, within 30 days of the beginning of the next rental period. For instance, tenants who pay rent on the first of every month must notify their landlords, in writing, of their intent to terminate their leases by June 1, to move out by August 1, or they will be responsible for paying August’s rent.

Automatic Monthly Tenancy

Virginia law allows landlords to convert their year-to-year tenancies into monthly tenancies when leases end, or if their tenants illegally holdover their rental units. Thus, when tenants who have annual lease agreements do not leave at the end of their lease terms or cancel their tenancies, as required by their leases, landlords have the option of treating them as month-to-month tenants. Also known as “tenants-at-will,” monthly tenants must pay their landlords monthly rent or their landlords may sue them for illegally holding over their tenancies if they fail to vacate.

Considerations

Since real estate laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.

References

About the Author

Jill Stimson has worked in various property management positions in Maryland and Delaware. Stimson worked for the top three property management companies in the commercial industry and focuses her career on property building logistics and tenant relationships. She holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Science in psychology.

Photo Credits

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