I'm in Virginia. This week, I signed/ratified a purchase contract to buy a house in Virginia that's going to close in 40 days. The house has an existing tenant with a lease with the current owner that will last 120 more days (4 months) from today. The seller's real estate agent forgot to put in a "rent back" clause in the agreement, so the contract says nothing about a tenant / rent back.

Now the seller's agent remembered, and wants me to sign another contract with the rent back. Should I sign? What happens if I don't sign?

  • Is this the only property this landlord owns and rents? If 3 or more, then the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (more info here: dhcd.virginia.gov/images/Housing/Landload-Tenant-Handbook.pdf) may apply. That should get you looking in the right direction. If you need more, you should seek out help from a local legal aid or tenants rights organization or office.
    – A.fm.
    Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 1:27

1 Answer 1


Absent any new agreement with the tenant, a purchase is normally subject to any existing lease, so you would be renting to the existing tenant until that lease expires, under its original terms, with you having all the rights and duties under it that the previous owner had. In effect, by signing the purchase agreement, you accepted a version of the original lease with your name in place of the former owner's, but with no other changes. You are entitled to the same rent that the previous owner was entitled to, and must make any repairs or perform any services that the previous owner was required to do.

  • Checking the lease for any required notices to terminate the lease would also be important. The lease may default to month-to-month at lease end without any action by either party and that could change the expected termination date.
    – Dave D
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 18:29
  • 1
    Would the OP have a legal basis for nullifying the contract in any situation? If he didn't know there was a tenant situation he would be expected to take over for when making the purchase, for example. It sounds to me like the OP did know about this, though, and the agent just forgot to include in the written contract terms that had already been detailed and agreed to during negotiations. Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 4:31

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