Are leases transferrable from one landlord to another?
June 20, 2009 4:15 AM   Subscribe

The owners of my apartment building have turned control of the building over from the extremely reputable apartment management company that I signed a lease with to a much less reputable company. Am I legally bound to continue honoring the lease? Since my earlier question, I've done research into the law and my specific lease. My recourse isn't obvious to me. What to do? (Arlington County, VA)

The first section of my lease:


THIS LEASE AGREEMENT is made this 28th day of October, by and between [OLD LEASING COMPANY], LANDLORD, AND [My Full Name], TENANT.


The Landlord is a nonresidential owner as defined in VA code Section 5-218.1. The agent appointed by the Landlord is [OLD MANAGEMENT COMPANY]. The agen'ts business address in Virginia is [Old Management Company's Address]. The agent's name and address is also filed in the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court for the county or city in which the residential unit lies.

For and in consideration of the rent herein agreed to be paid, and the rights, and obligations of the respective parties agreed to herein, the Landlord hereby leases to the Tenant above named, and the Tenant leases from the Landlord the following rental unit on the terms and conditions as stated in this Lease. ------

There are a few things that interest me:
  1. In the first paragraph, my old leasing company is explicitly defined as landlord. There are no mentions of the building's owner throughout the lease.
  2. VA 55-248.15 states that "notice of any change by a landlord or tenant in any terms or provisions of a tenancy at will shall constitute a notice to vacate the premises". Am I right in that this seems to imply that I can make a clean break?
  3. Possibly also relevant, VA 55-248.21 seems to give me the power to get out with 30 days' notice.
Thanks for any help!
posted by charmston to Law & Government (8 answers total)
Information only, not legal advice. A tenant enters into a contract with the landlord. The obligations to stay and pay are owed to the landlord, not to his agent. The landlord is free to change the agent, and the designation of an agent is not one of the terms of the contract.

For legal advice, you need to consult a Virginia-licensed lawyer.
posted by yclipse at 4:43 AM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

And even if the landlord sells the building, the leases and all obligations normally are transferred as well, unless the lease prohibits that. And it probably didn't, since the landlord wrote the lease.
posted by yclipse at 4:46 AM on June 20, 2009

I am a law student, but I am not YOUR law student.

Anyway, off the top of my head, regarding (2.) - you're not a tenant at will, are you? You have a fixed-term lease, don't you? Also, it's not clear to me that the assignment of the lease to another company would affect "any term or provision" of the tenancy, since your legal rights and responsibilities are not affected.

Also, the section you link to deals with non-compliance of a landlord. But the landlord hasn't failed to comply with the terms of the lease; it's just changed.

Until the landlord actually breaches a condition of the lease, I'd say you're stuck.
posted by Dasein at 4:48 AM on June 20, 2009

I think this question shows how it can be risky to solicit or give straight-up legal advice over the internet. In your first question, people wondered whether you might be confusing a change in management company, which would essentially be irrelevant from a lease perspective, with a change in landlord. Now in this question again at one point you refer to the "old leasing company" and at another to the "old management company." Are these the same, or different? Is is a mistake in this question, on the lease, or what? Is it a simple technical mistake, or is there something else happening here with the legal relationships?

Excerpts from the lease are nice, but it would also be crucial to examine all provisions, especially any assignment clauses.

Anyway, I think you need your own lawyer on this one - or at least a friend who can meet with you in person and ask you questions. Again, as someone mentioned in the previous question, try contacting neighborhood legal services or legal aid - you may be able to get some quick advice from a lawyer working pro bono. Unfortunately, now most law schools are out for the summer - otherwise I would have said to contact local law schools, many of which often have landlord-tenant clinics that would be perfect for you. You still might try that.

Sorry if I'm missing something, but there are sort of essential details that neither of your questions seems to have clarified for me.
posted by chinston at 5:27 AM on June 20, 2009

IANAL, but I can tell you that the above advice from yclipse is basically right. You are a tenant of your landlord, not a tenant of the company the tenant hires to manage his or her property.
posted by zennoshinjou at 6:00 AM on June 20, 2009

When you say the managers are less reputable, what do you base that on? Have they done anything wrong in the complex you are in now? You can't base any legal case on a friend saying, "they suck." If nothing the manager has done yet to you is disreputable you probably are going to have to suck it up and wait. Be prepared and keep track of what they do but I think you may have to wait it out.
posted by JJ86 at 6:48 AM on June 20, 2009

Even if the lease is with the management company:

1) There is probably an assignment clause in the lease, permitting the lessor to transfer his rights under the lease to someone else.

2) It appears that under Virginia law, that's the default situation anyway.

Sorry, I think you're either staying put or breaking your lease.

IANYL, this is not legal advice, etc.
posted by palliser at 6:53 AM on June 20, 2009

Oh, man, disregard what I said above. I misread your question. The building isn't even being sold - they've just hired a different management company. Yeah, you definitely have no recourse.
posted by Dasein at 7:45 AM on June 20, 2009

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