In the commonwealth of Virginia, a landlord can raise a tenant’s rent generally after the end of their lease. For landlords subject to the Virginia Landlord and Tenants Act within the Virginia Code, tenants must be given notice of their new rental rates and have an opportunity to end their leases after the end of their lease terms.
If you are a landlord without a written lease agreement, you have a tenancy at will agreement with your tenant. You can raise a month-to-month tenant’s rent by providing that tenant with at least 30 days’ notice in writing before the new rate becomes effective. If you have an oral or written weekly tenancy agreement with your tenant, you can raise rent by providing your week-to-week tenant at will with at least seven days’ of written notice before raising his rent. Although Virginia law requires prior notice before you can raise rent, the Virginia Legislature did not insert a limitation or rental cap into the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
Thus, as long as you comply with the written notice requirements before raising your tenant’s rent, you can raise it to any amount you want. Once you provide sufficient notice of an upcoming rental increase, you are not required to accept less than your new rental amount. If your tenant fails to pay you the increased rental rate, you can sue him for nonpayment and associated damages. However, you must first give your tenant a five-day pay or quit notice prior to pursuing eviction for nonpayment of rent. Generally, you have a legal right to demand payment of attorneys’ fees and late fees if you lease allows it as part of your five-day pay or quit notice and calculation of damages. If your tenant pays the entire delinquency, you cannot typically pursue an eviction based solely on nonpayment of rent.
You may contact me today at (703) 454-5147 if you need help drafting a lease that may minimize future disagreements on rental increases or need help collecting overdue rent from your tenants. If you are a tenant, you can contact me to help you understand your legal rights against illegal rental increases by your landlord.