FACT SHEET: Help Tenants Avoid Having to Pay Unaffordable Rents

Thursday, January 12th, 2023

Support HB1702 (Maldonado)

Tenants need clear notice of rent increases in time to find other housing 

The Problem:

  • Many residential leases contain automatic renewal provisions under which the lease renews for the original lease term (usually 12 months) if neither tenant nor landlord provides notice to the other of an intent to not renew the lease. Notices of intent to not renew are usually due 60 days prior to the end of the lease term; if a tenant does not notify a landlord of a desire to move out at the end of the lease, the lease automatically renews. In recent years, landlords have been including lease provisions that automatically raise rent whenever the lease automatically renews.
  • Standard residential leases are often multiple page documents paragraphs divided into many sections and subsections. Their pages are often crowded with this printed material and the terms they use aren’t always easy for tenants to understand.[1] It seems likely that many tenants don’t realize that one of the subsections in their multi-paged lease informs them that their rent will increase each year.
  • Most tenants aren’t reminded of the rent increase until their leases have renewed for another year at the higher rent.

The Solution:

  • HB1702 provides a simple solution: require landlords to provide a separate notice of the rent increase to the tenant no less than 30 days before the tenant’s deadline to tell the landlord she won’t renew the lease.
  • By directing landlords to provide another notice of the pending rent increase 30 days before the tenant has to decide whether or not to renew the lease, HB1702 gives tenants time to explore other housing options to determine whether some other available home with lower rent can meet their needs.
  • A 2021 study of the Joint Legislative and Audit Review found that 44% of Virginia renters are cost-burdened, paying more than 30% of their income on housing[2]. HB1702 is one of the tools Virginia needs to change this statistic. By giving tenants better notice of rent increases, HB1702 gives them a realistic chance to opt to move somewhere with more affordable rent.


For More Information:
Christie Marra, christie@vplc.org 
Laura Dobbs, laura@vplc.org  
Mariko Lewis, mlewis@newvirginiamajority.org

To see our other fact sheets and take action, visit our Session Action Center here.

[1] See for example Virginia Association of Realtors Lease https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/765b2a3e/files/uploaded/2021-2022%20Lease.pdf

[2] 2021 Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission Study on Affordable Housing, www.jlarc.virginia.gov/pdfs/reports/Rpt559.pdf

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