What Tenants Need To Know In Fairfax County


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This presentation covers the details of what tenants need to know before signing a rental agreement in Fairfax County. This includes the rules, rights, and obligations of tenants when they sign a rental agreement. Also included in this presentation are details on what should be in a lease agreement, security deposits, move in/out inspections, repairs and maintenance, renters insurance and how evictions work.

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What Tenants Need To Know In Fairfax County

  1. 1. What Tenants Need to Know<br />Consumer Affairs Branch<br />Fairfax County Department of <br />Cable and Consumer Services<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  2. 2. Be sure the neighborhood fits in with your lifestyle. <br />Inspect the rental before you pay a deposit or sign a lease agreement.<br />If the rental is not available, find out about the age and condition of the unit, the appliances, and the fixtures. <br />Ask for and read the lease agreement thoroughly. <br />Ask questions if you don’t understand or disagreement with any of the terms and conditions.<br />Before You Rent<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  3. 3. Discuss and negotiate terms and conditions you disagree with before you sign the lease agreement. <br />If there are any changes to the lease agreement, make sure they are in writing and add them to the agreement. <br />Read the lease agreement again.<br />Before signing the lease, be sure you are willing to live with all of the terms and conditions plus the rental rules. <br />Before You Rent<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  4. 4. A signed rental agreement is a legally binding contract.<br />There is no grace period after signing a lease to change your mind.<br />If you and the landlord cannot agree to terms that satisfy both of you, continue your search for a rental situation that you will be comfortable with. <br />Signing the Lease<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  5. 5. A lease or rental agreement is a contract that sets the terms of the relationship between the landlord and tenant. <br />Both the tenant and landlord should agree with all of the terms before the landlord accepts rent money and the tenant takes possession of the rental.<br />After the lease is signed, both the tenant and landlord have a legal obligation to complete the term of the lease agreement. <br />Lease Agreement <br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  6. 6. Length of the tenancy<br />Amount of rent per month<br />Amount of security deposit<br />Fees: late fee, application fee, pet fee, etc.<br />Number of people who can live at the rental<br />Which party is responsible for utilities and other costs<br />What’s in the Lease Agreement? <br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  7. 7. If pets are allowed and if so, the terms and conditions<br />If the tenant can sublet or have a roommate<br />The landlord’s access to the rental unit<br />Landlord’s responsibilities<br />Tenant’s responsibilities<br />Rules governing behavior<br />What’s in the Lease Agreement? <br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  8. 8. Money required by the landlord to cover the cost of damage or charges owed due to a breach of the lease agreement.<br />The landlord holds the security deposit for the length of the rental agreement. <br />A landlord can ask for a security deposit up to two months rent.<br />What is a Security Deposit? <br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  9. 9. After a tenant moves out, a landlord must return the security deposit:<br />Within 45 days<br />Pay Interest if required<br />Provide an itemized list of deductions<br />A landlord may use the security deposit for:<br />Unclean conditions<br />Broken appliances<br />Utilities<br />Unpaid rent or fees<br />What is a Security Deposit?<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  10. 10. Move-In Inspection<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  11. 11. Move-In Inspection<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  12. 12. Move-In Inspection<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  13. 13. Move-In Inspection <br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  14. 14. Move-In Inspection <br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  15. 15. A landlord is required to make repairs and keep all appliances and facilities in good and safe working order. <br />A landlord is responsible for any repairs they agreed to under the terms of the lease, or verbally.<br />A landlord must also maintain the premises in compliance with state and local Housing and Building codes and fire codes.<br />When there is a problem in the rental dwelling, contact the landlord first. <br />Follow up with a letter.<br />Do not withhold your rent. <br />Repairs and Maintenance<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  16. 16. SAMPLE REPAIR REQUEST LETTER<br />Landlord's Name or Property Management CompanyAddressCity, State, Zip<br />Date<br />Dear (Landlord's Name):<br />I am writing to request repairs to (appliance, plumbing problems, no heat, etc.) due to (reason for repair, such as normal wear and tear, broken appliance, etc.). I live at (your complete address, including apartment number).<br />Describe in detail what needs to be repaired<br />State why the repair is needed, even if it's obvious <br />Describe what you have done, such as speaking with them over the phone or by e-mail<br />It would be appreciated if you would arrange to have these repairs completed as soon as possible. Contact me at (phone number or e-mail) if you have any questions or need more information. Please let me know when the repairs will take place. <br />Thank you for your prompt response. <br />Sincerely,Your Name<br />Repairs and Maintenance<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  17. 17. If the landlord does not fix or repair the problem after you have provided notice, contact the following county agencies for help:<br /><ul><li>Fairfax County Zoning Enforcement Branch, Property Maintenance
  18. 18. Fairfax County Health Department, Division of Environmental Health, Community Health and Safety Section
  19. 19. Consumer Affairs Branch </li></ul>Repairs and Maintenance<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  20. 20. A landlord may enter your apartment to:<br />Inspect the premises.<br />Make repairs requested by the tenant.<br />Make alterations or improvements.<br />Show the unit to prospective tenants or purchasers.<br />Handle an emergency situation such as a hazardous or life threatening situation, or a court order. <br />When Can a Landlord Enter? <br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  21. 21. A landlord must give the tenant reasonable notice and may enter only at reasonable times.<br />Must give at least 24-hours notice of routine maintenance not requested by the tenant.<br />If the tenant requests repairs or service, the 24-hour notice is not required. <br />Must the Landlord Give Notice? <br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  22. 22. Reasons for Filing an Eviction<br />Nonpayment of rent. <br />Breach of the Lease. <br />Unauthorized pets<br />Noise<br />Excessive damage or changes to the premises<br />Illegal activity by the tenant, authorized occupants, or guests <br />Holding over after the lease term has ended.<br />Abandonment of the premises.<br />Eviction<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  23. 23. An eviction is a court action used by a landlord to remove a tenant from a rental unit.<br />The landlord must provide the tenant with a 5-Day Pay or Quit Notice or a 30 day Notice to Quit.<br />This notice gives the tenant 5 days from the receipt of service to pay the entire balance owed or leave the premises in 30 days.<br />Eviction<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  24. 24. If the tenant does not move or pay the overdue rent, the landlord must go to court and prove the tenant did something wrong that justified ending the tenancy. <br />A landlord cannot:<br />Remove a tenant or their personal belongings. <br />Lock-out the tenant without a court order.<br />Force an eviction by deliberately cutting off essential services like hot and cold running water or utilities. <br />If a landlord attempts to carry out an illegal eviction, a tenant should call the Fairfax County Police non-emergency number at 703-691-2131.<br />Eviction<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  25. 25. The landlord may ask for:<br /> Back Rent<br /> Late Fees<br /> Court Fees<br /> Attorney fees if allowed by the lease<br /> Payment of any damages to the property<br /> Possession of the property <br />  <br />This action does not end the tenant's obligation to fulfill the term of the lease agreement. <br />Eviction<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  26. 26. A “Summons in Unlawful Detainer” must be filed in the Fairfax County General District Court. <br />Once filed a court date is assigned.<br />This document is served by the Sheriff’s Office.<br />Tenant-Landlord cases are usually scheduled for hearing on Fridays at 9:30 a.m. in the Civil Division of the General District Court. <br />Eviction<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  27. 27. Summons for Unlawful Detainer<br />Eviction<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  28. 28. At the trial, both the tenant and landlord are given an opportunity to present their position. <br />You must appear in court to be sure your side of the story is heard.<br />If you don’t show up a default judgment can be entered against you.<br />Be prepared to provide information and evidence that supports your position, such as canceled rent checks.<br />The court may not consider circumstances such as unemployment, medical hardships, or financial difficulties as a defense for non-payment of rent.<br />Eviction: Court Hearing<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  29. 29. If a judgment is entered against you and the landlord is granted possession of the premises, you must make arrangements to move out.<br />The “Writ of Possession in Unlawful Detainer” is the actual order of eviction.<br />After judgment is entered, there is a 10-day appeal period. <br />To appeal a case, the tenant must post a bond and satisfy other legal requirements. <br />An appeal bond is money you may have to pay into court to cover back rent and other costs. <br />Failure to make the ordered payments on time will end your appeal rights. <br />Eviction: After the Court Hearing<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  30. 30. If the tenant does not appeal, and the appeal period has passed, the Sheriff will post the "Writ of Possession“. <br />The writ will state the date and time the Sheriff will supervise the actual removal of the tenant's possessions. <br />The Sheriff’s office will give the tenant a minimum of 72 hours notice. <br />The landlord must supply personnel to carry the goods to the curb.<br />The tenant is responsible for protecting their possession or moving them to another location.<br />Eviction: After the Court Hearing<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  31. 31. Can you afford to replace all of your personal belongings if they are destroyed in a fire or items are stolen? <br />A landlord’s insurance protects the property from loss, not a tenant’s personal property. <br />Renter’s insurance will cost you less than it would to replace everything you own. <br />To find out what kind of insurance coverage you need, contact the State Corporation Commission Bureau of Insurance at 877-310-6560 www.scc.virginia.gov<br />Renter’s Insurance<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />
  32. 32. Contact the Fairfax County Consumer Affairs Branch for more information:<br />12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 433<br />Fairfax, Virginia 22035<br />703-222-8435 TTY 711<br />www.fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />consumer@fairfaxcounty.gov<br />fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer<br />Contact Consumer Affairs<br />