Tenant Law in Virginia
In Petersburg, Virginia, it's not easy to be a tenant or a landlord, and relations between those parties can sometimes get testy.
Landlords and tenants have many rights and responsibilities. What follows is a partial list of the rights that landlords and tenants have, and the corresponding duties of the other party.
Landlord's Rights in Petersburg, VA
The most important and most noticeable right that a landlord has is the right to timely payment of rent from the tenant. This, of course, means that the tenant has a duty to pay rent.
Additionally, landlords can bill the tenant for any damage they cause to the unit, whether it was intentional or negligent. The costs of repairs for such damage can be deducted from a tenant's security deposit, but it should be noted that tenants aren't accountable for normal wear and tear, over which they have little control.
Tenant's Rights in Petersburg, VA
Tenants, most basically, have a right to a habitable apartment. After all, this is what they're paying for. Petersburg, Virginia landlords are obligated to see that the units they rent to tenants are fit to be lived in by people. Many various defects might render an apartment uninhabitable, such as serious infestations and other problems with sanitation, lack of running water or electricity, or failure to provide adequate protection from the outside elements.
In addition to habitable living spaces, tenants also have a right to reasonably safe common areas. Common areas include lobbies, hallways, and stairwells - basically anything that everyone living in an apartment complex has access to. These common areas must meet the building standards of Petersburg, Virginia, and must not contain any unnecessary safety hazards.
A tenant also has a right, under federal law and the laws of Virginia to be free from discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, or gender. Landlords can further not discriminate against persons with disabilities, and must make reasonable accommodations for those disabilities.
Finally, tenants are legally protected from arbitrary eviction. Landlords typically must have a very good reason to evict a tenant before the lease agreement reaches the end of its term (at this point, they are of course allowed to decline to renew the lease). Of course, if the tenant breaches the lease agreement (such as by failing to pay rent, damaging the property, or violating other reasonable rules the landlord has put in the lease), the landlord, like a party to any other contract, is free to terminate the agreement and evict the breaching tenant.
Can a Petersburg, Virginia Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Landlords and tenants almost always prefer to avoid conflict. In a perfect world, tenants would pay rent on time, and landlords would always provide the services that they're being paid for. As we know, the world isn't perfect. When situations demonstrate the world's imperfection, a Petersburg, Virginia real estate attorney can help, whether you're a landlord or a tenant.