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VRLTA versus Common Law Leases

Michele - Thursday, May 14, 2015
Property Management Blog

In Virginia, if a landlord owns only one rental property, the owner may choose to lease that property subject to Common Law or subject to the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act (VRLTA). While the landlord does have that choice, at RPM Direct, it is our policy to prepare all leases subject to the VRLTA.

There are many differences between the two options, both of which do provide fair protection to both parties. The primary reasons that we’ve decided to use the VRLTA lease exclusively are related to the late payment of rent and the eviction process:

Under Common Law, when a 5-Day Pay or Quit Notice is posted on the tenant’s door, if the tenant decides to “Quit” or leave the property rather than to pay the past due rent, the lease is automatically terminated and no further rent is due from the tenant to the owner. Under VRTLA, when a 5-Day Notice of Material Non-Compliance is posted, even if the tenant leaves the property, he or she is still financially responsible for payment of rent through the remainder of the lease term, subject to the owner’s duty to attempt to find a replacement tenant.

Under Common Law, once the eviction (unlawful detainer) process has been started, if the owner accepts any rent from the tenant, the process is voided. Under VRLTA, the owner is able to accept rent “with reservations” and proceed with the eviction process.

While attorneys, Real Estate Agents, and property managers throughout the state have differing opinions on the benefits of using Common Law versus VLRTA leases, after much research into both options, we feel that use of the VRLTA is the option that best protects the interest of our landlords.