Whether you’re a landlord who's just getting started or a veteran property owner who simply wants to polish up on the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, you've landed on the right page. Having a solid grasp on Virginia landlord-tenant laws can prevent you from ending up in legal hot water down the line.
We here at RentEasy have you covered with a basic overview of the landlord-tenant laws in the state of Virginia.
Virginia Renters Rights and Responsibilities
According to the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, tenants in the state of Virginia have a right to:
- Live in a habitable property that adheres to the state’s codes.
- Be notified of changes to the Virginia rental agreement agreement.
- Have their repair requests answer by the landlord within a reasonable timeframe.
- Continue living in the rental premises until the landlord has followed the proper eviction procedure to have them removed.
- Enjoy their peace and quiet without disturbance from either the landlord or the neighbors.
- Have a copy of the written rental agreement listing their rights and responsibilities.
- Have their security deposit returned after the lease expires, minus necessary deductions.
When it comes to responsibilities, Virginia tenants, just like their counterparts elsewhere in the country, are obligated to:
- Pay rent when it is due at the end of the month or else risk eviction.
- Take good care of the rental premises by notifying the landlord when maintenance issues crop up, and not cause careless or negligent property damage.
- Not disturb the peace and quiet of neighbors, or other tenants in the building.
- Provide the landlord written notice when moving out of the rental unit.
- Fulfill the obligations outlined in the lease or rental agreement.
- Notify their landlord when going out of town for an extended period of time.
Virginia Landlords Rights and Responsibilities
As a landlord in the state of Virginia, you have the right to:
- Be notified whenever a tenant wants to move out of the premises.
- Be notified when a tenant is looking to make changes to the premises.
- Collect a security deposit from a tenant that is moving in.
- Receive rent whenever it is due, and to enforce a late fee when it falls late. The late period should be clearly outlined in the rental agreement.
- Enter the rented premises to carry out your responsibilities, with advanced notice.
- Use a tenant's security deposit to cover expenses such as tenant damages, unpaid rent, etc.
Under Virginia law, you are obligated to:
- Follow the property procedure when evicting a tenant from your property, squatters being a different matter.
- Notify your tenant in writing when looking to make a change to the lease or rental agreement.
- Provide your tenant with a copy of the written rental agreement.
- Maintain the peace and quiet of the property.
- Provide a habitable rental property that meets the state and local building, health and safety standards.
- Act within a reasonable timeframe when a tenant submits a maintenance request.
- Abide by all other rules in the lease or rental agreement.
- Keep their security deposit in a safe account until you return it to them.
Required Virginia Landlord Disclosures
In Virginia, landlords must make certain things known to prospective tenant before signing a lease with them. This includes:
Mold: If your property has presence of mold, you are required to make that information known to prospective tenants.
Lead Paint: Exposure to lead can cause a myriad of health concerns, including kidney and brain damage. It’s for such reasons that landlords in Virginia are required to disclose presence of lead paint to a prospective tenant.
Renovation or Demolition: Are you looking to make significant changes to the property within the next 6 months? If so, you have to disclose that to future renters.
Sale of Property: If you happen to sell the property within the course of a tenancy, you must let your tenant know. You must also disclose to them who the new owner is.
Defective Drywall: Also known as a Chinese Drywall, a defective drywall refers to one that emits sulfur gasses or one that has been designated so by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Overview of Virginia Rental Laws
1. Warranty of Habitability
As a landlord, it is your responsibility to provide a habitable property. That is, one that meets the state’s building and housing codes. The implied warranty of habitability law requires landlords to:
• Provide their tenant with a property that has working electrical and plumbing systems.
• Respond to tenant maintenance requests, especially those that impact habitability standards, promptly.
• Ensure the property is sanitary so it doesn’t constitute a health hazard.
If a landlord fails to meet the aforementioned requirements, the law provides the tenant with some options. Among these options is for the tenant to exercise their right to “repair and deduct” from rent.
2. Virginia Fair Housing Act
Just like in other states, discrimination in regard to housing is illegal in Virginia. Under federal fair housing laws, it’s illegal for housing providers to discriminate against their tenants based on the 7 protected classes: race, national origin, color, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.
Virginia law also adds to that list by protecting sexual orientation, source of funds, veteran status, gender identity, and age.
3. Small Claims Lawsuits
Conflicts between landlords and tenants are not uncommon in the state of Virginia. A small claims court can hear and determine cases up to an amount of $5,000.
4. Privacy Rights
The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act says that a landlord must notify their tenants of intended entry beforehand. If you want to enter to make routine repairs, then you must provide your tenants with a notice of at least 24 hours.
If it involves the application of insecticides or pesticides, then it should be at least 48 hours.
Landlords may require entry to a rented property for a variety of reasons, including: to make needed repairs, in case of abandonment by the tenant, due to a court order, due to an emergency, and when looking to show the property to purchasers, mortgagers or a possible replacement tenant.
Disclaimer: This article is informational and not meant to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Laws change often, and this blog may not be updated at the time of your reading. If you need further clarification, please consider hiring an attorney or an experienced Virignia property management company.