Renting a home or apartment brings flexibility, but also bring challenges. When there are delays in needed repairs, changes to living situations or life circumstances, tenants may find themselves needing to modify or end their lease. Breaking up is hard to do, but a split that's fair to all involved can spare you dinner-party drama (and no one gets a glass of wine thrown in their face).
Every situation is different, so contacting a licensed attorney who has expertise in landlord-tenant court and is familiar with residential real estate statutes will give you the best picture of your options. After seeing lots of landlord-tenant splits ugly enough to shock a reality show host, here are a few tips for ending things amicably.
1. Bring receipts. It's vital to put everything in writing, whether it's a love note or a diss track. Knowing exactly what day you requested repairs or provided notice of your intent to end the lease can become vital information in resolving disputes. Your lease sets the rules for the relationship between landlord and tenant, so keep it close. Resist the temptation to put your landlord on blast – they are probably keeping good notes, too!
2. Send signals. Most residential statutes require proper notice, and taking your landlord by surprise does no one any favors. Virginia is not an exception. If there are problems with your rented unit, your landlord has the right to cure the problem before you take any further steps. If there are serious repairs needed, you can provide your landlord a notice of noncompliance that gives them 21 days to address the problem while stating that if they are not addressed, you will move out and terminate the lease within 30 days. There is usually not a way to speed through this cure period, so as in any relationship, patience is a virtue.
3. Lean on a neutral party. One option can be a tenant's assertion, which can require your landlord to make repairs or address problems. In this situation, the court will hold your rent payments during the repair period, so your rent is due in full and on time, but the landlord won't be paid until the repairs are completed.
4. Don't tolerate the toxic. In Virginia, if conditions are so severe that they are uncurable, that can constitute an irremediable breach of the lease and give you the right to provide notice that you intend to terminate your lease and move out in 30 days. Proving a breach is irremediable is a high burden, though, so it's best to consult with a licensed attorney before taking this step.
5. Give him a chance before you act on your own. Under specific circumstances, you may be able to make your own repairs, as long as you keep expenses down to $1,500 and give the landlord prior notice and 14-days to complete repairs,
If your relationship with your landlord needs a love doctor, remember to be honest and straightforward. Living up to your word can go a long way, and you know what they say – trust is the foundation of any meaningful relationship.
This post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship until retainer agreement signed by client and lawyer.