Lease Renewal Basics

Typically, written leases for residential tenancies of multiple months or more contain provisions that allow for the lease to automatically renew on a month-to-month basis. The issue of procedures to follow for renewal (or non-renewal) of the lease invariably comes into play for both the landlord and the tenant.

The Virginia Code requires landlords who own five or more rental units to provide tenants with at least 60 days’ written notice of any rent increases that would take effect after the conclusion of the current lease term. Upon receipt of the written notice no sooner than 60 days from the conclusion of the current lease term, the tenant can accept the rent increase by either signing a new lease or allowing the lease to auto-renew. Conversely, the tenant can reject the rent increase by delivering notice to the landlord that the tenant wishes to non-renew the lease, thus avoiding any autorenewal at a higher rate of rent.

For month-to-month leases, 30 days’ notice is typically required to non-renew, while 60 days’ notice is typically required for lease terms of multiple months or longer. Leases typically specify the amount of notice required for either party to non-renew the lease agreement.

For lease terms of multiple months or longer, the notice of non-renewal ends the lease effective at the conclusion of the lease term, not earlier. However, for month-to-month tenancies, non-renewal notices terminate the tenancy effective at the conclusion of the month following the delivery of the notice. For example, suppose there is a tenant with a month-to-month lease that renews on the first of every month.  If they provide a non-renewal notice on January 15th, then the tenant would have to move out by March 1st, not February 15th.

Likewise, landlords have the option to non-renew a lease with a particular tenant. A landlord need not provide a written notice of rent increase if the landlord plans to deliver a non-renewal notice to a particular tenant within the notice period proscribed by the lease.