Monday, March 9, 2015

Virginia Landlord Tenant Act Politics At REI of VIrginia This Week


As always, REI of Virginia invites all candidates that are willing to come to meet with us so we can make educated decisions on who to vote for. We have plans for Senator Edwards to meet with us again in the future.

The election is still a while from now. I think in November. Republican Nancy Dye will be challenging Democrat Senator John Edwards who has gone to bat for REI of Virginia several times now for our Water Authority issues.

Nancy is a retired surgeon. She is active on many boards including the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors and Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Advisory Board. She also works with the Military Family Support Center and has served on the boards of Hargrave Military Academy and Ferrum College.

Her main issues are jobs and the economy. Nancy will be meeting with us to tell us a little bit about herself and to hear from us regarding our small business issues.

Nancy will mostly be concerned with statewide issues as the office she is running for impacts state issues, not local Roanoke City issues. So these would be issues related to the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act.

A couple months ago I gave her a few issues that are unfair related to that below. I’m sure you can think of many more.

"On a state level our issues primarily have to do with peoples accountability for their own actions. There are several laws on the books that need tweaking regarding this. One that we are currently battling is the Water Authority. They have made it so they have the special ability to put a lien on our property if a tenant doesn’t pay their water bill. It’s not right to send a bill to a third party who has not contracted for the service.

Other issues pertain to things like “squatters rights.” The trespassing laws apply to everyone but a landlord. Or I shall say they apply to everyone but there needs to be more language in the landlord tenant act defining a squatter because the laws are not enforced only with landlords. They just say thats a civil matter. But in all other cases other than a landlord it’s a criminal matter.

Let me give you an example. A tenant moves in some friends. At some point in time they move out and leave it with their friends that you have not done a background check on and were not approved to live there. In most cases you don’t even know for a while because the friends paid the rent for a while. Then the friends stop paying. You go to evict the tenant and find that there are other people there and they tell the police that they have the right to be there because the tenant allowed them to move in. Technically they are trespassing and the police should tell them to pack their bags and get out if there is a lease proving who is supposed to be there. However in the case of a landlord they say this is a civil matter and you need to take them to court to get them out. So you don’t know who they are and they aren’t on the lease so you take the original tenant to court and also sue “any and all other occupants” to get them out since you don’t know who they are. They get nothing against them in civil court because they weren’t your tenant and you were suing the original tenant. They shouldn’t have been there in the first place and pretty much every lease out there says that the tenant has no right to sublet the apartment without approval from the landlord.

The same goes with vandalism. If a tenant punches holes in the walls and causes other damage because they are mad at you since they had no money to pay their rent and you evicted them, the police call that a civil matter if it’s a landlord. But if you go into anyone else’s property, a store, a friends house, etc that would be a criminal matter. Even if they moved out and stole your refrigerator and stove the police will call that a civil matter.

If you write a bad check to a business with intentions to defraud it is a criminal matter. If a tenant writes a bad check to a landlords small business they call that a civil matter.

There are fair housing laws that require landlords to allow medical service pets in our property. Thats fine, but there is a scam out there where people are getting medical “companion animals” with letters from their doctor. I allow pets but they legally can circumvent our pet deposit and pet rent that covers damage. Some landlords don’t allow pets from anyone. But they have to if its a medical service animal. Also some of these people have companion animals that our insurance companies often don’t allow. Like pit bulls. There should be some language to clearly define this subject while not putting us in that kind of bind. "

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