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My lease is one year based and is about to end at the end of July, 2018. However, my landlord literally asked me if I would like to sign a new lease for the next school year on May 10 and I said yes. But she did not give me a response.

Now, on July 2, she told me that she will not be renewing my lease as she is deciding to renovate the bedrooms and bathroom; she asked me to leave before July 31.

This is very awkward for me as it is not enough time to find a good dwelling left for me and it is not a good time of a year to find new roommates and new rooms. I am wondering if what she is doing is legal or not?

(Also, there is one thing I forget to mention, there are two of us living in this place. However, I am the only one who has to move as she is only renovating the bedroom and bathroom I am using. So it just feels like she is trying to get me out of here while renovation is just an excuse.)

Thanks in advance!

  • I assume that July 31 was the move out date originally noted on your lease? – sharur Jul 8 '18 at 7:31
  • Please specify if there is a written lease, and if so what the written lease says about the window of notification for non-renewal. In many cases that notification must be in writing, given at least 30 days prior. (July 2nd is not 30 days prior to July 31.) – agc Jul 8 '18 at 18:42
  • @agc There is a written lease, however, I could not find anywhere that says window of notification for non renewal. – zyy Jul 8 '18 at 18:59
  • "The landlord or the tenant may terminate a month-to-month tenancy by serving a written notice on the other at least 30 days prior to the next rent due date, unless the rental agreement provides for a different notice period. The landlord and the tenant may agree in writing to an early termination of a rental agreement. In the event that no such agreement is reached, the provisions of § 55-248.35 shall control." § 55-248.37. Periodic tenancy; holdover remedies. – agc Jul 8 '18 at 19:17
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    On the other hand, if it's a year to year lease: "Ending or Renewing a Tenancy Landlord must give written notice to terminate the tenancy: Lease: according to lease terms Week-to-week: 7 days Month-to-month: 30 days Year-to-year: three months Eviction: 5 days for failure to pay rent; 30 days for breach of lease (if not remedied within 21 days) Eviction: Court order required" - Virginia Tenant Rights Laws at a Glance – agc Jul 8 '18 at 19:25
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If I understand the text below correctly, then a Virginia Landlord terminating a year to year lease due to a substantial renovation must provide the tenant 120 days written notice. An ordinary year to year lease termination requires 90 days written notice to the tenant. Therefore if these things are lacking, (i.e. a verbal termination notice of 29 days), the termination would be unreasonable and therefore illegal.

Quoting Virginia Title 55. Property and Conveyances § 55-222:

A. A tenancy from year to year may be terminated by either party giving three months' notice, in writing, prior to the end of any year of the tenancy, of his intention to terminate the same.  A tenancy from month to month may be terminated by either party giving 30 days' notice in writing, prior to the next rent due date, of his intention to terminate the same, unless the rental agreement provides for a different notice period.  Written notice of termination shall be given in accordance with this chapter or the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act ( § 55-248.2 et seq. ), as applicable.

B. In addition to the termination rights set forth in subsection A, and notwithstanding the terms of the lease, the landlord may terminate the lease due to rehabilitation or a change in the use of all or any part of a building containing at least four residential units, upon 120 days' prior written notice to the tenant.  Changes in use shall include but not be limited to conversion to hotel, motel, apartment hotel or other commercial use, planned unit development, substantial rehabilitation, demolition or sale to a contract purchaser requiring an empty building.  This 120-day notice requirement shall not be waived except in the case of a tenancy from month to month, which may be terminated by the landlord by giving the tenant 30 days' written notice prior to the next rent due date of the landlord's intention to terminate the tenancy.

The written notice required by this section to terminate a tenancy shall not be contained in the rental agreement or lease, but shall be a separate writing.

  • Is there any difference between a "one-year based lease" and a "year-to-year lease"? The OP refers to "signing a new lease", not renewing the old one. – DJohnM Jul 8 '18 at 21:45
  • @DJohnM, We'd have to see the OP's lease to know, but year-to-year is the more common variety. Since the OP uses imperfect grammar, i.e. "did not gave me", it might be a bit optimistic to infer a incongruously rigorous standard of legal phrasing. – agc Jul 9 '18 at 20:00
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In general, your landlord is not obligated to offer you a new lease or lease renewal, barring a provision of your lease or a specific state or municipal rule to the contrary. A quick search (https://law.richmond.edu/docs/Va-Housing-Pro-Bono-Materials-2015.pdf), suggests that there is no such state wide rule.

My first thought is that there may be an issue "promissory estoppel", which is a legal theory wherein the law treats promises as contracts if the receiving party reasonably relies on the promise to their detriment.

However, your landlord did not promise you a lease renewal offer (even if a reasonable person might expect to receive one after answering that question to the affirmative); and even if a lease renewal were promised, there is no indication(in this non-lawyer's opinion) of the terms of the lease necessarily being the same. Per the research I have done, Virginia doesn't have any rent control (https://resources.lawinfo.com/landlord-tenant/virginia/is-there-any-limit-or-ceiling-on-rent-increas.html), so there is nothing stopping the new lease from e.g. demanding 10 times your current rent.

As long as July 31 was your original listed move-out date, then it appears you must vacate the property as requested.

  • Thank you for your help! Also, there is one thing I forget to mention, there are two of us living in this place. However, I am the only one who have to move as she is only renovating the bedroom and bathroom I am using. So it just feels like she is trying to get me out of here while renovation is just an excuse. – zyy Jul 8 '18 at 14:15
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    If your lease is up, your landlord is free to not renew it for any reason or no reason at all. She doesn't really need an excuse... – user17707 Jul 9 '18 at 16:41

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