Commercial and Residential Landlord/Tenant Disputes
Whether you are a commercial tenant, individual real estate investor, residential tenant, or a commercial landlord, the Virginia Landlord-Tenant Attorneys at MartinWren, P.C. can provide skilled representation in all matters arising out of the sometimes complicated landlord-tenant relationship. MartinWren, P.C.’s landlord-tenant lawyers can assist in drafting both commercial and residential leases, as well as assisting either party if a breach does occur. We recognize both a landlord’s and tenant’s sense of urgency and the need to move quickly and effectively when a dispute arises.
Smaller landlords in Charlottesville will be governed by Virginia’s common law, which recognizes that the reasonable terms of a lease agreement will govern the relationship between the parties. When a dispute arises between the landlord and tenant, the terms of the lease will generally determine how the dispute should be resolved.
Landlords of larger complexes or multiple properties, however, are governed by the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA). This Act applies to apartments, public housing, Housing Choice vouchers, Section 8 housing, and other federally subsidized housing run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and it establishes minimum guidelines that these landlords must follow in Virginia.
Renters and tenants in Virginia are provided a number of legal protections by the VRLTA, including:
- A fair application fee
- A fair security deposit
- A decent and safe place to live
- A certain level of security
- Notice of a change in management or ownership, or change of the property for some other use
- Notice before pesticides are applied in your apartment
- Notice of a rent increase or decrease in services
- A proper eviction notice
Landlord-tenant conflicts may arise when dealing with areas such as:
- Lease violations
- Property disputes
- Contract disputes
- Lease reviews
- Transactional disputes
If a landlord decides to remove a tenant from his property, Virginia law spells out the procedure for eviction, the process by which a landlord obtains possession of the rental property. After satisfying any notice requirements or other conditions, a landlord can proceed by filing a summons for an unlawful detainer against the tenant, attending a hearing, and receiving a court order for possession. If the landlord prevails, the judgment of the court may direct the tenant to leave the property and pay any back rent, damage claims, legal fees, and court costs.
Residential landlords in Virginia are not allowed to perform “self-help” evictions, such as changing the locks, removing the front door, or turning off utilities. Therefore, it is important that a landlord consult with an experienced landlord-tenant law attorney to clearly and fully understand the procedure he or she must follow when evicting tenants.
While the VRLTA provides certain legal protections for both landlords and tenants, it is the courts that most often determine how to enforce the parties’ rights and obligations. If you are involved in a dispute with a landlord or tenant, contact the landlord-tenant dispute attorneys at MartinWren, P.C. for sound legal advice in navigating this tenuous course.
It is often the case that the best way to ensure that you have a successful landlord-tenant relationship is to make sure you avoid the common red flags that usually accompany problematic tenants and landlords. In addition, it is helpful to ensure that a residential or commercial lease not contain overbearing or unfair terms. Seeking and obtaining the assistance of an experienced Virginia landlord tenant attorney at the outset may help you avoid many preventable problems.
The landlord-tenant lawyers of MartinWren, P.C. have extensive experience advising landlords and tenants, drafting and analyzing contracts with property owners and prospective tenants, representing parties in Fair Housing Act discrimination claims, and representing both landlords and tenants in unlawful detainer and property damage claims. If you need assistance from an experienced Virginia landlord/tenant attorney, please contact Robert E. Byrne, Jr. at (434) 817-3100.