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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 27192
Experience:  Attorney
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Although in the Tennant Protection Laws state of VA, it

Customer Question

Although in the Tennant Protection Laws for the state of VA, it states that a Landlord must give reasoning to a Tennant not receiving their full security deposit back within 30 days of termination of the lease, or the full deposit and any lawyer fees/interest will be owed to the Tennant, this was not the case in my situation. I did sign a lease that this "Living Landlord" had drawn up, and in the lease it did state, on the 4th page, that if no forwarding address was given within FOUR DAYS of the termination of the lease, then the Landlord was not obligated to explain any reasoning that any portion of the deposit was not returned. I provided a forwarding address 7 days after moving out, so when a portion of my deposit (about 30%) was returned and no reasoning for the other 70% to be kept, I was quite upset. I knew I left the room in the same, if not better, shape then when I had moved in. I emailed her multiple times asking why all of my money was not returned, and her simple response was that she was not obligated to tell me because I did not provide a forwarding address within four days. It has since been over 30 days of the termination of the lease, in which VA Tennant Laws say she would be required to return all money, because she did not provide reasoning against doing so in that allotted time. My question is, because she wrote in her lease a stipulation that directly negates a VA Law, does that mean that I wouldn't have a chance if I were to either ask for my money back with this Law protecting me or decided to take her to court?
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 7 months ago.


I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

That clause in the lease is void. Any language in a lease that purports to waive the tenant's protections under the Landlord Tenant Act of Virginia is unenforceable as a violation of public policy. Code of Virginia, Section 55-248.9. Because she put a void provision in the lease, if you had to sue her, you'd be entitled to collect your reasonable attorney's from her (unless you're renting a single family home from a private party who doesn't own more than 2 rental properties).

Also note that even if the clause WERE enforceable, all it says is that she doesn't have to send you an accounting for the deposit. That doesn't say she gets to keep as much of the deposit as she wants if you didn't provide a forwarding address. She's still only allowed to keep the amounts necessary to reimburse her for unpaid rent or damage to the property. If you did not owe rent when you left and the property was in good condition, you can sue for the 30% she withheld.

You have two options here:

1. Send her a letter explaining that the provision she's relying on is void and pointing out that, if you sue her, she still has to justify the deductions to the judge. It's actually in her best interests to tell you why she's keeping the money if her reasons were valid.

2. File a suit in Small Claims Court to recover the amounts she withheld.

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