Legal Question in Real Estate Law in Virginia

Termination obligations when there is no written lease

With one month's rent security deposit, I moved in May 8, 2001. My ''landlord'' delayed having me sign a lease agreement because she was in the midst of refinancing her loan on the property. To date, a lease has never been signed and I am facing job-related relocation in September. My company would like us to work out a ''buy-out'' agreement. What obligations (state laws, ets.), if any, do we face and what would be a typical lease buy-out agreement. Should I expect to get my deposit back?

Asked on 7/28/01, 3:31 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Glenn R. Tankersley Regency Legal Clinic

Re: Termination obligations when there is no written lease

Buy-out? There is no buy-out because there is no lease.

What you have is a month to month tenancy. To terminate a month to month tenancy, either party must give 30 days prior written notice of the termination of the month to month tenancy.

But, be careful, termination is tricky.

You must give 30 days notice prior to the next due date of the rent. If the rent is next due on the 5th of the month (today is the 2nd), you must deliver that notice BEFORE the 5th of this month that you will be terminating as of the 5th of the FOLLOWING month. So, if this is August 2 and you intend to terminate in early September, you must give notice that you will vacate (and actually vacate) before the 5th of September. (Plug in the day of the month, i.e., 1st, 5th, 10th, whatever, that the rent is actually due--usually, it's the 1st).

As for your deposit, that deposit is not to be used to cover rent due but only damages to the premises.

Before you leave, do a walk-through with the landlord and have a camcorder (and operator) with you to record the actual condition of the premises as you do the walk-through.

Always remember, landlords CAN (and I emphasize "can") be snakes.

But, then, so can tenants.

Of course, be on your best behavior with the landlord. As my dad used to say, "You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar."

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Answered on 8/02/01, 9:22 pm

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