Tenant Law in Virginia
In Roanoke, 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 Roanoke, VA
The most important and most obvious 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 Roanoke, VA
Much like landlords have a right to get paid for the service they provide, tenants have a right to get what they pay for: a suitable place to live. In Roanoke, Virginia, all residential rental agreements carry an "implied warranty of habitability." This means that a landlord implicitly guarantees that any residence he or she rents will be fit for human habitation. In general, an unit will be automatically deemed uninhabitable if it lacks running water, electricity, heat, and adequate protection from the elements. There are several more factors that can be considered, as well, but those are some of the basics.
Tenants also have a right to ensure that the common areas of their apartment building are reasonably safe. Landlords are required to make sure that the common areas of their buildings meet Roanoke, Virginia's building codes, and that there are no conditions that create unnecessary safety hazards. They are required to make, at their own expense, the required repairs.
Under the laws of Virginia, and the United States, discrimination in housing on the basis of race, religion, or gender is strictly prohibited. Additionally, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, landlords must not discriminate against renters on the basis of any physical disability. They also have to authorize the renter to make reasonable modifications to their apartment, to make it more accessible. Generally, landlords are only required to allow relatively minor and reversible modifications, and tenants cannot compel them to remodel the building, for example. Also, once the tenant leaves, the landlord can bill the tenant for the costs of restoring the apartment to its original condition.
And finally, most state laws prevent landlords from arbitrarily evicting tenants. If the lease agreement is for a set period of time, the landlord typically can't evict the tenant until the lease expires, without a good reason. Valid causes for eviction include unpaid rent, illegal activities on the property, damage to the building caused by the tenant, and excessive noise.
Can a Roanoke, Virginia Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Tenants and landlords always want to avoid getting into any serious disputes - these disputes interfere with the tenant's living arrangement, and the landlord's business. In short, they help nobody. While a good Roanoke, Virginia attorney can certainly help his or her client prevail in such a dispute, they may be more valuable for their ability to help prevent such disputes from escalating in the first place.