How and When to File a Tenant’s Assertion

for-rent-signThe VA code provision that governs the Tenant’s Assertion action under the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act is § 55-248.27.

When To File a Tenant’s Assertion

Under the code, if there exists upon the leased premises a condition or conditions which constitute a material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement which if not promptly corrected, will constitute a fire hazard or serious threat to the life, health or safety of occupants thereof, the tenant may file a Tenant’s Assertion in order to force the landlord to correct the issue.

How To File A Tenant’s Assertion

Before the Tenant’s Assertion is filed, the tenant must first give written notice to the landlord describing the exact condition of the property and what needs to be repaired.  Depending on the severity of the issue, the landlord should be given anywhere from several days to 30 days to correct the issue.

A repair length of over 30 days is generally deemed unreasonable by the court.

If no action was taken by the landlord within 30 days, the Tenant’s Assertion should be filed in the General District Court of the jurisdiction where the property lies.  The suit should be brought against the landlord, not the property manager or property management company even though the tenant probably has had more interactions with the manager than the actual landlord.

Once the Tenant’s Assertion is filed, the tenant must pay the full amount of rent due to the court for the court to hold in escrow while the matter is being decided.

With the rent money paid into the court, a hearing will be held where the landlord must show that they have either made the relevant repairs or show that the requested repairs do not exist or are minor enough to not affect the tenant’s health and safety.

Once the matter is concluded, the rent money paid into the court by the tenant will be disbursed between the tenant and landlord at the courts discretion.

It’s Important That You Pay Your Rent

The tenant cannot simply refuse to pay rent and hold onto the money because of a repair problem with the property.  Non-payment of rent is grounds for eviction and the landlord may file an unlawful detainer action asking for the unpaid rent and possession of the property.

Need help filing a Tenant’s Assertion? Call the lawyers at Winslow & McCurry at 804.423.1382.