Our Virginia State Legislature has been hard at work and come up with a number of new and amended laws effective July 1, 2009. The tenant landlord laws have a few new changes and one that is important to tenants is the requirement that the landlord notify a tenant in WRITING when a mortgage goes into default or a pending foreclosure notice is received.
This is a good news/bad news situation. In the past tenants have been hit with the surprise of the sheriff showing up at their door with an eviction notice. Surprise you’ve been paying your rent but your landlord hasn’t been paying the mortgage.
Does this mean that landlords will actually provide the written notice? My guess is that most of them aren’t reading the Virginia Landlord Tenant Laws and so it will be up to a tenant to know their rights. Most tenants figure out that not only are they out a place to live but they also are out their security deposit as well.
If a landlord does give the tenant written notice, what should they do? My advice is to check with an attorney. Never stop paying your rent but you may want to pay the rent to the attorney to hold until you can determine whether you will have any rights to remain in the property or that you will be given your security deposit back. Even though your landlord might be in default of their mortgage they could still ruin your credit by reporting your lack of rental payments to the credit bureau.
If you are considering buying a home of your own in the near future the gap in your rental payments might also be an issue for you on your mortgage application. Paying your mortgage to a third party will provide you the necessary cancelled checks and could keep you from any issue with your landlord.
It is great to see the new addition to the law and we can hope that this will mean fewer surprises for tenants but it does mean that you need to be dealing with a landlord who cares and understands tenant landlord laws.
Read the entire changes in the Virginia Tenant Landlord Laws (HB 2080) for 2009