Richmond, VA asked in Landlord - Tenant for Virginia

Q: Can my landlord change previously agreed upon written rental price and terms after they notified me initially by mail?

My apartment was sold and they are planning a renovation of our kitchen and bathroom over the course of 1.5 months. I received mailed written notice that I had 30 days to choose one option:

1. Continue to rent apartment during rental at current rental price ($730) during renovations, sign new 12 month lease at $950 after renovations are complete.

2. Move out during renovations, upon renovation completion sign a new 12 month lease to re-rent apartment at $950.

3. Terminate current lease.

They have changed over email the price of the rent for the time it is being renovated to $375, and when asked about option # 2, leaving during renovations and re-renting the apartment, they have changed it so that the rent would be increased to $1050 and there is no guarantee I can rent the apartment because they will be advertising it. They also keep changing in email what utilities are included in the new rent. Do I have any legal standing for it to match what was written out in correspondence?

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

A: In Virginia, one party to a written residential lease for a specific Term cannot unilaterally change the terms of the lease unless the other party to the lease agrees to the changes in a written document. Based on your reported facts, it appears that the landlord is attempting to change the provisions of the lease and attempting to make you agree to the changes. If you do not agree to the proposed changes and those changes are not reduces to a written agreement, the written residential lease cannot be changed or modified.

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