Lexington, VA asked in Contracts, Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for Virginia

Q: Am I obligated to sign this lease when a verbal agreement to sign happened prior to being given a copy of the lease?

I moved into a rental as a third party not on the lease, though I had the Landlord's permission. I have been residing and paying rent to my roommate for 7 months, and she paid the landlord. The lease was on an automatic renewal set to end July 31st and my roommate (who is on the lease) did not give the 60 notice to move out. So, a new lease was being drafted with me included on it. When I was given a copy of this lease to be signed, I did not like the terms and decided to not sign (communicated within a few hours of receiving the lease agreement to the Landlord) and to move out. My name is currently on nothing whatsoever (no utilities, just a drafted lease to begin August 1st). My landlord is saying I verbally agreed to the next year of leasing despite not being on the lease or signing it. Am I legally bound to anything?

2 Lawyer Answers
Elizabeth Crego
Elizabeth Crego
Answered
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Alexandria, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: It seems to me that there are a few different ways this could be interpreted.You could be regarded as merely a permitted occupant for the last seven months under the lease with your roommate, which creates no independent obligation on your part. It also provides no protections for you and you would need to move out with your roommate. The landlord could require payment of damages from your roommate but not anything from you if you move out by the end of the month. If you were paying rent directly to the landlord, though, you may be considered to be in a separate, unwritten lease agreement with the landlord. Virginia law generally provides that all leases should be written, but if a lease is not written and the parties act as if they are in a lease (i.e., the landlord allows the tenant to live there and the tenant pays rent), there will be a default year-long lease with basic terms as provided under Virginia law. Since you have not signed the new lease agreement, it seems to me that you are not obligated to the terms you do not agree to; however, you may be obligated to stay for the rest of the year under default unwritten lease terms. You might want to talk with an attorney to discuss your options if you cannot come to an amenable agreement with the landlord.

1 user found this answer helpful

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

A: The legal issue is whether there was a mutual assent between the parties or meeting of the minds to the terms of the lease when it was orally presented and then further negotiations occurred before it was signed. This is a question of fact for the Judge to determine. It is not a question of law. No provision of Virginia law will provide a clear cut answer to your question.

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