On Tenant Duties and Landlord Remedies

Real Estate Agent with Nesbitt Realty at Condo Alexandria 0225-089134
If you are considering renting an apartment from a landlord or condominium owner or if you are thinking about leasing your property for rent, it is important that you know both the law and the legal instruments that govern landlord tenant relationships in the Commonwealth of Virginia.


First, consider the lease. A lease is the contract that governs a landlord-tenant relationship. In contrast, covenants within a lease are generally independent of the lease itself, where if one party breaches a covenant, the other party may still recover dam¬ages but cannot terminate the landlord-tenant relationship in its entirety. Although not covered herein, the doctrines of actual and constructive eviction and the implied warranty of habitability are exceptions to this general rule. In addition, many states including Virginia have created a statutory exception to this general rule which does allow, however, a landlord to terminate a lease for any nonpayment of rent. Below is a brief discussion of a tenant’s duty regarding the doctrine of waste and other considerations including ordinary wear and tear as they may or may not be contemplated in any given leasehold agreement.

Tenant’s Duty to Repair and the Doctrine of Waste:

A tenant has a duty not to damage (or commit waste on) a leased premises. There are three rules governing waste in a leasehold context, all of which a Landlord may recover for from the tenant in the form of damages should the tenant breach.

1) Voluntary (affirmative) waste results when the tenant intentionally or negligently damages the premises or exploits minerals on the property.

2) Permissive waste occurs when the tenant fails to take reasonable steps to protect the premises from damage from the elements. The tenant is liable for all ordinary repairs, excluding ordinary wear and tear. If the duty is shifted to the landlord (by lease or statute), the tenant has a duty to report deficiencies promptly, and the tenant can assume liability for such deficiencies if not reported in a timely manner pursuant to the lease agreement.

3) Ameliorative waste occurs when the tenant alters the leased property, thereby increasing its value. Generally, the tenant is liable for the cost of restoration. There is a modern exception to this rule, however, which permits a tenant to make this type of change if he is a long-term tenant and the change reflects changes in the neighborhood.

Finally, remember that in the absence of a specific reference to ordinary wear and tear, most repair covenants frequently exclude ordinary wear and tear whereby a Landlord usually remains obligated for certain structural and casualty destruction repairs except for damages caused by the tenant.


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Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

This is good information for tenants and landlords.

Happy New Year!

Jan 01, 2015 11:52 PM #1
Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400
The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803 - Plainview, NY
Long Island Home and Condo Specialists

Nice way to get the word out on leases in the Commonwealth of VA!

Jan 01, 2015 11:59 PM #2
Dagny Eason
Dagny's Real Estate - Wilton, CT
Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo

Nice way to get information out for tenants and landlords in VA

Jan 02, 2015 12:36 AM #3
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Outstanding post on Landlord/Tenant rules and state regulations for your state. There is a lot of misinformation, especially when people move to different parts of the country. Your information is very helpful and will serve as a guide to others in your State. Knowing what the State Law is and how it pertains to Landlord/Tenant relationships is just one of the many things you do best.

Jan 02, 2015 12:38 AM #4
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


So true tenets need to understand their rights in renting (state regaulations)

and use a real estate professional in renting the property.

Patricia Feager nailed it with her comment.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Jan 02, 2015 02:15 AM #5
Bob Ratliff
Robert Ratliff Realty - San Antonio, TX
"Sold with Bob"

Will, great break down of tenant responsibility and Landlord responsibility, if one ever watches Judge Judy they see most of the time there is a difference of opinion's when it comes to responsibility when leasing.

Jan 02, 2015 02:40 AM #6
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Thanks for the detailed information, Will. Very helpful. 


I also dropped by to wish you a very prosperous and Happy 2015. D 

Jan 02, 2015 03:10 AM #7
Robert Bob Gilbert
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties - Katy, TX
Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert

Will, This is a very good summary of the obligations and rights of both sides to a lease deal. Happy New Year. 

Jan 02, 2015 05:31 AM #8
Jon Kolsky
Kolsky Realty & Management - Long Beach, CA
Licensed California Real Estate Broker

Will Nesbitt ~ I've been a landlord for over 20 years and I agree with everything you posted! Awesome blog!

Jan 02, 2015 08:08 AM #9
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Will, this is excellent information for both tenants and landlords in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Jan 02, 2015 09:35 PM #10
Sharon Paxson
Compass - Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach Real Estate

Hi Will - thanks for sharing this information about leases, important information in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Jan 03, 2015 01:21 AM #11
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