Normal Wear and Tear

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Normal Wear and Tear

I am being asked to sign a lease in Virginia which states that the tenant is responsible for “making all repairs and doing whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition.” Earlier in the lease, it says “The Tenant shall be liable to the Landlord for any damage to the Premises beyond normal wear and tear.” These two phrases seem to contradict themselves, as “all repairs” may include wear and tear. The house I am trying to rent is nearly 100 years old. Is the landlord allowed to charge me for repairs if something breaks simply because it is old? Please help.

Asked on June 15, 2009 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I'm glad that you're asking the question before you sign it!  You need to have the document reviewed by an attorney in your area, for advice you can rely upon, because I'm not a Virginia lawyer and there are differences in how the courts in different states might read that language.  And it's very important for a lawyer to read the entire lease, in a case like this.

In many states, the landlord wouldn't be able to write his way out of his basic duty to keep the building habitable.  But that isn't the sort of thing to take for granted.


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