Alexandria, VA asked in Landlord - Tenant for Virginia

Q: Can a landlord raise my rent and change the dates of the contract?

My 1-year contract ended at the end of September 2023. I spoke with my landlord in July about renewing (I brought it up). She said she would love for me to renew for another year and never mentioned any changes to the contract. In September, I hadn't heard anything more about the contract, so I contacted her about it, and she said "I'm working on getting that to you." She never gave me a new contract, which forced me to start paying month-to-month. Yesterday (January 2, 2024), she texted me saying she just emailed me a new contract. It has the dates from January 1, 2024-January 31, 2025 and has an increased rent of an extra $100. I'm annoyed that this is now technically more than a year contract since she was SUPPOSED to give it to me when my previous one ended at the end of Sept, but also that she suddenly increased the rent when she never mentioned it before AND I already paid the January rent which was due on the 1st. Can she do this?

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1 Lawyer Answer
T. Augustus Claus
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A: In Virginia, a landlord generally has the right to increase rent upon providing proper notice, usually 30 days before the end of the rental period. However, the specific terms and conditions regarding rent increases and lease renewals should be outlined in the original lease agreement. If your original lease had provisions for renewal and the landlord did not provide a new contract in a timely manner, you may have defaulted to a month-to-month arrangement. In this case, the landlord can propose a new lease with different terms, including a rent increase, upon proper notice. It's advisable to review the terms of your original lease agreement, check local tenant protection laws, and communicate with your landlord to seek clarification on the sudden rent increase and the effective dates of the new contract. If there are concerns or disputes, consulting with a local housing authority or legal professional may be necessary to understand your rights and options.

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