Buckingham, VA asked in Contracts and Landlord - Tenant for Virginia

Q: Signing a fixed-term lease on house. In VA, can new landlord add a clause--if it sells new owner can give 60 day notice?

The new landlord said they're not likely to sell, but the property has two houses and it's possible she'll want to sell mine. There are plenty of people right here who would want to rent it, so I'm wondering--can I say no to adding that clause? Is it legal in VA or do I have no leverage if it's easy for her to find other renters? I asked her if we could tack on 2 more months to made it 4, which will be so much less stressful. I've been living here for a year and a half and she'd agreed to keep me on as a renter--but now it feels like it will feel like living on a month to month lease. I have had serious health issues develop and have now found out there is a high level of lead in the water that I'm remedying, but my mental functioning and exhaustion at this point would likely make moving quickly really difficult.

I've not heard from her since I emailed 2 days ago asking we tack on 2 more months to that clause. My old lease is through 2/28, but old owners moved and she's in.

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2 Lawyer Answers
F. Paul Maloof
F. Paul Maloof
Answered
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Alexandria, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: Assiming you have a written residential lease in place, and if your question is whether a new title owner of the Property is entitled to unilaterally change the terms of your lease with the previous title owner, the answer is no. A residential lease can only be changed or modified by mutual written consent of both the tenant and the landlord.

Ross Cameron Hart
Ross Cameron Hart
Answered
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Salem, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: As I understand your facts - you are occupying a house under a 2 year lease that will expire soon. Owner will extend but with a clause that allows owner to terminate the lease IF they sell the house and on 60 days notice.

First, yes they can do that. As a tenant I once did that - put in a clause that if I bought a house I could terminate my lease on a 60 day notice.

I would suggest that you simply have a lease that says EITHER of you can give 60 (or try for 90) days notice to terminate and no reason is necessary. Basically a month to month for each of you but with a 60 or 90 day clause required for termination.

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