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  • Andrea Bade

Top Residential Lease Mistakes

Here are some of the we see and why these items matter.

1. No clause in lease allowing for recovery of attorney fees.

There are several code sections that discuss attorney fees in the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act. One, is § 55.1-1245 (G), which allows a Landlord to recovery attorney fees if they have to sue a tenant for a breach of the lease, but only if there was a clause allowing for this recovery in the lease agreement. As a best practice, if you want to recover attorney fees, then put it into your contract.

2. State if the lease agreement will automatically renew and for how long.

The default rule in Virginia is if the lease ends, it will continue on a month to month basis. However, you can have the lease automatically renew for another year or any other time period. Making sure you and your tenant are on the same page regarding their lease renewal, could save you a law suit. Be up front in your contract with how the lease will renew.

3. Do an initial walk through with new tenants and be sure to state this in the lease.

Many landlords don’t have a provision stating they will do an initial walk through, or if they do have that language, then they fail to do the walk through. Make sure you walk through the unit before a new tenant moves in, and take pictures of the rental. This could save you a lot of money if you have to take the tenant to court over damages to the property. Also, be sure to have the tenant fill out a move in inspection form and provide it to you. That way everyone is on the same page.

4. Put move out rules in the lease.

Be sure that you specifically state everything that the tenant is required to do before leaving the rental. Are they in charge of lawn care? Make sure to state that the lawn has to be mowed prior to move out. Is the tenant in charge of cleaning the unit? State that in your lease. Do you want professional cleaners to clean the house? These are all things you should consider adding to your lease to be as clear as possible.

5. How old is your lease?

Virginia law has changed a lot over the past few years, especially since COVID. Make sure to review your lease and keep it up to date with Virginia Law changes.

Do you have questions about your lease agreement? Do you need to update your lease? Are you a tenant trying to understand what the lease means? At Shaia’s Law, PLLC, we represent Landlords and Tenants. We believe that helping people on both sides of landlord-tenant litigation makes us better lawyers for you. We will examine your case from both sides and give you an honest opinion of your legal matter in your free consultation. Give us a ring: 804-477-4972.

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